Categories:UK,United States

Microsoft panel firms to earn diversity bonuses

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  • Insidious

    Businesses that do well are those able to provide products or services that people are prepared to pay for. Nothing else.

    This sort of initiative might sound great at first, but when law firms divert attention from making money by providing the best legal advice to making money by hiring people from minorities, they begin to lose their competitive edge.

    And that, in a globalised world, will simply pave the way for their business to be taken off them by Chinese competitors that don't even pretend to give a damn about minorities.

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  • What is diversity?

    I'd like to see more news stories or features that ask just what diversity means. Is this just about race, or does it also include the disabled, and/or the poor?

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  • Re Insidious

    Firms that provide the best service to clients are those the attract the best people to provide those services. A working environment that doesn't acknowledge and support diversity will not be able to attract the best people.

    The poster also seems to forget that clients themselves are diverse and any firm failing to combat discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex, race, religion, or sexuality will damage its ability to attact instructions from clients who consider themselves to fall within "a minority".

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  • come on

    Re the last post, my view is that that is just a little naive. When there is a good lawyer up for grabs then 99 per cent of firms will want to grab him or her irrespective of his or her colour, but things like diversity targets are really more about PR than HR.

    Setting targets, visiting schools and colleges and hiring 'diversity experts' might turn up a few more lawyers from non-traditional backgrounds than without them, but the idea that the benefit really outweighs the cost on a purely business basis is far from proven. Where the rest of the effort dividend is recouped is in fending off critical journalists with stats and with making partners sleep better at night after a youth spent reading the Guardian.

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  • re Come on

    Re the last post. I think Anon has missed my point. Of course firms want to attract the best talent, regardless of background. However, I do not agree that diversity targets are about mining "non-traditional backgrounds" for that talent. Firms are realising that the best candidates may choose to go elsewhere if the firm has a poor track record in supporting diversity, or worse still, has a hostile/indifferent attitude towards candidates and employees from non-traditional backgrounds.

    Tracking diversity metrics and achieving targets is a key indicator that both clients and firms are committed to improving diversity within their organisations and making them more inclusive and better places to work.

    You only have to look at the comments posted in connection with The Lawyer's recent articles on diversity to see that the subject is important to a lot of people - not just Guardian readers.

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  • Diversity and Microsoft

    It is very stupid to include the poor when talking about diversity. A diverse workforce that reflects the community as a whole is very necessary.

    As always, the USA has led the way with affirmative action (Obama and Powell). It is about time affirmative action came to the UK so that complacent, entitled mediocrities can stop writing offensive and ill-considered posts. In the end, the legal profession will come into line because it is always about the money.

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  • The USA has led the way?

    I'm not quite sure the USA led the way in affirmative action. That 50 odd years it took them to ban slavery after it was banned in (the lion's share of) the British empire suggests a bit of a lag. As does the extra century it took before JFK finally got round to establishing equal rights for blacks in the south.

    But if by 'affirmative action' you mean positive discrimination - i.e treating people differently on behalf of their race, just in a non-traditional way - then that's a lead that anywhere else is welcome to. Because that's just racism of a different kind.

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  • "Positive" discrimination

    Diversity in the work place is an important area that should be addressed, particularly in the legal profession.

    However, I think it is absolutely rediculous to be introducing schemes like this one proposed by Microsoft. Diversity IS coming, just look at the number of students of girls on your law degree course, or the number of students from non-white families.

    In due course, the workplace will become more diverse as a greater proportion of the population are given the opportunity to train as lawyers and so on. But forcing diversity through discrimination is outrageous, just look at the heated debate it started in the Metropolitan police - where white applicants were being told they could not advance because they were not of ethnic background. How is this not discrimination? It is direct discrimination and Microsoft's plan can be said to be indirect discrimination.

    Diversity is happening already and there is no need to force it, which ultimately creates rifts within the workplace.

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