Why Launching a DEI Program in Legal Departments Is More Important Than Ever

by | Jun 9, 2021

With the Spring 2021 CounselLink Conference wrapped up, the lingering question may be, “What do we do now?” That is an excellent question and the appropriate response to so much information being provided. With so much great interaction surrounding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the conference, it seems that many legal departments are very interested in rolling out a program.

While Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are all interrelated, there are distinct differences among the three terms:

  • Diversity represents the differences within a setting, such as ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and nationality
  • Equity is an approach that ensures everyone has the same access to opportunities and advancement
  • Inclusion is the extent to which various team members, employees, and others feel a sense of belonging and value within a given organization

DEI is good for the people in your department and it’s good for business

Implementing standards for DEI within your department and for the vendors you work with has a positive impact on employees and helps improve the bottom line. Employees who are valued are more likely the ones looking forward to go to work, are more productive, and are more likely to stay with the organization. According to Deloitte’s research, highly inclusive and diverse companies:

  • Have a 2.3% increased cashflow per employee
  • Are 1.7X more ready to accept change (which is essential for planning and reacting to economic factors)
  • Outperform their peers by 80%

The challenge is knowing where to start and how to best implement a DEI program into your legal department’s current culture.

 Start by setting your legal department DEI objectives

Before you begin, you’ll want to identify your department’s objectives for launching a DEI program. The objectives you identify will serve as a reference point to help keep your program launch on track and can be used to set measurable goals. Consider the following actions that are shown to help legal departments build a better culture and improve business.

  • Encourage more understanding within different cultures or groups in your department for a more cohesive work environment
  • Bring on more diverse talents as a way to grow business through a variety of perspectives and attracting a wider variety of clients
  • Work with outside counsel that employ a certain percentage of minority partners and meet diversity standards

Explore what DEI means to the people in your legal department

Next, you’ll want to sit down and have discussions on what aspects of DEI are most important to your legal department. A good way to start internal conversations is to have an exploratory meeting and brainstorming. Pre-plan your questions and provide a safe environment for people to share their feedback, thoughts, and feelings.

 Here are several questions to get you started during your DEI exploratory meetings:

  • What is our company passionate about?
  • What does DEI mean to you?
  • What best represents DEI from our perspective?
  • What are the benefits to our department?
  • How will this impact our legal operations?
  • What do we want our department’s end story to be?

These questions will likely create some inspiring discussions as you include and learn more about your colleagues. After you collect feedback, you may want to review your objectives to ensure they align with your department’s DEI priorities. Then, you’re ready to make a plan and leverage an enterprise legal management solution, such as LexisNexis® CounselLink® , to capture, store, and report the necessary data to track and maintain your DEI program’s progress and results.  

CounselLink has built-in, easy-to-use DEI tools

With CounselLink, you have tools right at your fingertips to help launch, maintain, and track your DEI program, both internally and with your external partners. Vendor profiles, vendor score cards, and diversity surveys provide a holistic view of the vendors you work with and how they measure up against your DEI standards. These tools can also be used to measure your own legal department to ensure that internal standards are met as well.  

Change is necessary—CounselLink is here to help

At the CounselLink Conference, some companies experienced with implementing DEI measures shared how their journey was a process that required time, planning, and patience. Implementing such an important and impactful change can seem daunting initially, which is why approaching this in phases could be a huge benefit. DEI isn’t a competition, but it is extremely important to embrace, implement, and grow.

You don’t have to go through the process alone. The entire CounselLink team is always here to partner with you and provide support along your journey to integrate an established DEI program within your legal department’s culture. Visit counsellink.com to learn more.

Jack Conyers III
Jack Conyers III

Jack joined LexisNexis in 2007 on our customer service team in Dayton, Ohio. Moving through the ranks, he landed as a CounselLink Solutions Consultant in Raleigh, NC. Now part of the Professional Services Organization as a Business Consultant, Jack is passionate about solving problems and advocating for our clients. He’s enthusiastic about technology and user experience, too. Jack holds a Master’s in Human Computer Interaction from Wright State University and a green belt in Lean Six Sigma.