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How to check if the law firm you are interviewing at is diversity friendly?

Every potential employee has one key question when job hunting – is this the right firm for me? This question becomes even more critical if the person is focused on diversity and inclusivity. Diversity has become a significant aspect of modern workplaces, but not all law firms are equally accommodating. Therefore, it's important to be able to identify signs of a diversity-friendly environment before joining a law firm. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to check if the law firm you are interviewing at is diversity friendly.

Research the Firm's Diversity Statement:

Most forward-thinking companies nowadays have a diversity statement that outlines their approach to inclusion and diversity. Look for this on the firm’s website, often in the "About Us," "Mission," or "Culture" sections. The diversity statement should indicate the firm's commitment to cultivating an environment where everyone feels respected, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion, age, or sexual orientation.

Evaluate the Firm's Leadership Team:

The leadership team of a law firm often reflects its commitment to diversity. Check whether there's a broad representation of diverse individuals in senior positions. Does the firm's leadership consist of just one demographic, or does it reflect a mix of cultures, genders, and backgrounds? Inclusion at the top often trickles down to every level in the firm.

Review the Firm’s Policies and Initiatives:

Look for firm policies that support diversity and inclusion. These could be flexible work schedules accommodating different lifestyles, parental leave policies, or diversity training programs. Similarly, the firm may have initiatives or partnerships aimed at promoting diversity, like collaborations with historically marginalized communities or mentorship programs for underrepresented groups.

Check if there are Diversity and Inclusion Roles:

A firm with dedicated roles or committees for diversity and inclusion shows commitment to these principles. If these roles exist, it signifies that the firm actively works on maintaining an inclusive culture.

Examine Their Recruitment Process:

Take note of the recruitment process. Is it open and welcoming, or does it seem exclusive? Some law firms have changed their recruitment strategies to eliminate potential biases and ensure they attract a diverse pool of candidates.

Evaluate the Work Environment:

While it may be tricky to do this before you've officially joined, any interactions you have during your interview could provide insights. Pay attention to how existing employees behave. Is it a friendly, welcoming, and inclusive environment? Do the employees seem comfortable interacting with each other, regardless of their backgrounds?

Reflection on their Clientele:

Examine their client base. If it's diverse, it's more probable that the firm has a commitment to diversity.

Obtain Feedback from Current and Former Employees:

This can provide a wealth of first-hand experiences and honest insights. Websites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, or even your personal networks can offer helpful viewpoints.

Ask Questions in your Interview:

During your interview, don’t shy away from asking the firm directly about their diversity and inclusivity policies. Questions might include: How does the firm approach and support diversity? How is diversity reflected in their client work? What programs or initiatives do they have for diversity training?

Training and Development Opportunities:

Law firms that are diversity-friendly typically offer training and internal development programs that foster ongoing education about diversity and inclusivity. This shows that the firm doesn’t just care about diversity in principle, but is actively working to educate its employees about it.

It’s essential to note that achieving diversity and inclusion is a continual journey. Law firms might be at different stages of this journey, and that doesn’t necessarily make them a bad choice. While these tips should help, ultimately, trust your intuition. You’re looking for a firm where you can thrive and grow, so listen to your gut instincts too. It's important to find an environment where you will feel valued as you are - with your unique perspectives and experiences contributing to the richness and depth of the firm's practice.

So, remember: Be thorough, ask questions, and advocate for the working environment you deserve.

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