Diversity Fatigue — as in Women Lawyers Don’t Count: You Have to Be Kidding

Diversity should be on the minds of all people.  All the time.  It should be on our minds as we walk the streets and as we read our newspapers.  We always should be asking ourselves how open-minded we are and how accepting of different peoples and different cultures.  We never should forget the important role that diversity plays in our lives and in the expression of our freedoms.

Diversity is important to the quality of our institutions and the quality of our products.  It has been demonstrated that diverse teams produce better and longer-lasting results.  That is why diversity is so important to the profession of law and to best practices.

The Best Friends at the Bar project is founded on expressions of diversity.  It was designed to advocate for diverse populations, which now include women lawyers and all young lawyers.  It was founded to address the challenges faced by special interest groups and to help members of those groups overcome the challenges.

As a profession, the law has not always been diverse.  In fact, for most of its existence it has been populated by mostly white males.  But all that has changed.  It is true that the power in the profession is still concentrated in the male population, but women and people of color have advanced to positions of acceptance and excellence that cannot be denied.

There still is much to do to achieve real diversity where women are concerned.  Women lawyers are not paid as much for the same work as male lawyers, and women lawyers are still a minority in positions of management and leadership in law firms.  Women lawyers continue to face challenges based on stereotyping and gender discrimination and harassment, and women lawyers of color are saddled with an entire other layer of discrimination.  With diverse populations come challenges.  And, as a profession, we must be up to the challenge.

So, when I saw this article on “diversity fatigue,” it resonated with me.  Diversity fatigue, really?  “Fatigue” meaning that it exhausts you and you are tired of it — whoever you are?

It is not too exhausting for those of us who realize how far we still have to go to achieve diversity that will be healthy for our profession.  If it is not too exhausting for those diverse populations that are trying to be included in the group and climb the ladder of success.  It is not too exhausting for those bright young minds who are contemplating whether they want to join our profession.

If it is too exhausting for law firm managers, leaders and diversity officers, that is a BIG problem for them to address.  They have a product to sell, and their market is more diverse than ever.

So, read the article and see what you think.  Let me know.

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