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Why Diversity is Essential in an Economic Downturn

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By Andra Greene and Laura Evans, Irell & Manella LLP N TIMES OF economic distress it is essential for

law firms to give attorneys with diverse backgrounds opportunities to thrive. Diversity allows us to be representative of our clients and community, which is essential for many clients. Diversity also brings a variety of perspectives to the workplace and promotes the creativity and exceptional problem solving for which our firm is known. Rather than view diversity as a luxury, we’ve chosen to view it as a core tenet in our firm’s business strategy. Despite the economic downturn, our firm is still competing for the best and brightest attorneys; our focus on diversity helps us to recruit and retain talented attorneys. While many firms have cut diversity programs recently, we have strengthened our commitment to diversity. Take, for example, gender diversity. Here, our efforts have included joining Catalyst, a leading nonprofit working globally with businesses to build inclusive workplaces. Irell has also joined a Los Angeles coalition

collaborating to advance and retain women lawyers. Internally, our Women’s and Hiring Committees are leading focused efforts to recruit and advance women attorneys at Irell. This past year, these committees collaborated to recruit an increased number of women, with great success. The 2012 women summer associates class will be the largest Irell has ever had, with 18 women out of 34 summer associates. Because most of our permanent hiring results from these summer associates, coordinating recruiting efforts are an essential first step. Ultimately, we maintain our firm’s commitment to diversity through the dedication of individual attorneys who care about the success of the firm. Irell & Manella LLP is a premiere AM LAW 200 firm. Andra Greene is the managing partner of Irell’s Newport Beach, California office and a member of the firm’s executive committee. Laura Evans chairs Irell’s Associate Committee and is an active member of its Women’s Committee.

Weathering the Storm

Brought on by a Challenging Economy By Hayward Bell, Chief Diversity Officer, Raytheon Company

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T ’S NO SURPRISE that well-

built homes are more equipped to withstand storms. Similarly, if a company’s Diversity and Inclusion program is an integral part of its business strategy and anchored in leadership behaviors, than that company too can weather the storm brought on by challenging economic times. As businesses look to do more with less, D&I practitioners should

prepare for potential impact to their programs and be able to demonstrate the value of those programs to company leaders. To ensure continued support, it’s vital to have the value proposition of D&I ingrained into a company’s business strategy before economic challenges arise. When funds are short, practitioners need to look for ways to become more efficient so that the company continues along its diversity journey without interruption.

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Within Raytheon’s Diversity program, we recently re-evaluated our processes to create a Diversity and Inclusion center of excellence for the company, ensuring our diversity resources are leveraged to better engage every employee. Companies can also benefit from enhancing the work of their employee resource groups. These networks act as Diversity and Inclusion ambassadors and strengthen the company along its journey. PDJ

March/April 2012

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Diversity Journal - Mar/Apr 2012