Firm diversity coordinators

July 8, 2008
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Diversity. Law firms know it’s important yet sometimes hesitate to talk about or tackle it because the subject can be overwhelming. Our sister publication, the Indianapolis Business Journal, has an article in its July 7-13 issue regarding diversity managers and coordinators at companies. The article uses Indianapolis firm Baker & Daniels as a source, pointing out the firm hired a diversity coordinator one year ago. A quick glance at a few other firms’ Web sites show job titles with “diversity” in the name aren’t being handed out frequently, but that doesn’t mean the job duties of a diversity coordinator aren’t being performed by another position.

On the one hand, I wonder, is a diversity coordinator really necessary? Shouldn’t those higher up at the firms already know they should have a more inclusive office without having a diversity manager to tell them that? Isn’t it obvious that it would be beneficial to have people with differing backgrounds in various positions in your office and that diversity may make your firm more attractive to clients?

But after thinking about the typical Hoosier law firm, the argument could be made in favor of hiring a diversity coordinator. Even though firms have made strides during the past few decades to include more people of different cultures, genders, and abilities, there is still a long way to go to make Indiana firms more reflective of the talent pool of practicing lawyers and the general public. Having someone who works full- or part-time with the sole focus of expanding the diversity of the practice could allow more focus and better results than delegating those tasks to an executive or partner.

Are diversity coordinators a valued resource at a firm or an unnecessary position?
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