GCC NEWS FEATURE
Consulting Giant Demands Diversity among Outside Counsel [By Kenneth Davis] Accenture, one of the world’s largest consulting firms, is pushing its outside counsel to add more diversity to their firms and is prepared to drop those who don’t make efforts to improve.
Two years ago, Accenture asked 40 firms on
Accenture is not making idle threats. When
In its meetings with the 15 firms during
its preferred provider list to fill out a lengthy
one law firm refused to fill out the 2005
2006, Accenture discussed how well each
diversity questionnaire. In the questionnaire,
survey, citing the survey’s length as the
had done in relation to the others. Each firm
the company asked each provider to indicate
reason for its failure to comply, the company
also developed an individual action plan in
the numbers of ethnic minorities, gays,
stopped using the firm.
consultation with the company.
management committees, among student
(The survey was long-seven pages. In
DLA Piper came in third in the company’s
and lateral recruits, and among attorneys
contrast, the questionnaire that Wal-Mart
rankings. David Mendelsohn, Accenture’s
working on Accenture matters. The survey
Stores, Inc., asked its outside counsel to
relationship partner at DLA, told In-House
also asked qualitative questions, such as
fill out in its well-publicized 2005 diversity
Counsel his firm has developed an initiative
“How does your firm deal with sensitive
initiative fit on a single page.)
to involve its minority associates in more in-
lesbians, and women in its entire firm, on
house legal work. “We want to know if these people we
Additionally, each firm had to describe how
are spending money on are dealing with
“Part of the desire is to involve and
successful it was at retaining its minority
diversity,” Accenture’s in-house attorney
encourage diversity,” he said.
lawyers, whether it had any recruiting or
Paul Chadha told In-House Counsel. “And
retention programs for them, and how it
we want them to know that ‘if you don’t
As a result of the meetings, many of the
measured the effectiveness of such programs.
improve, we won’t use you.’”
firms are busy beefing up their diversity
Accenture shared the aggregate data with
outside counsel, showing them how they
The inspiration for Accenture’s initiative
compared with their peers and encouraging
came from the diversity manifesto that Sara
So how well would Accenture do if it were
firms to share ideas and best practices.
Lee Corporation General Counsel Roderick
to take its own survey? The company won’t
Palmore began circulating two years ago.
release its diversity statistics, but going by
“We used this as an opportunity to have
the ratings that it gave its outside counsel,
a dialogue,” Douglas Scrivner, General
In April 2005, Scrivner signed the statement,
Stern told In-House Counsel, “We wouldn’t
Counsel for Accenture, told Diversity &
which calls on companies to scrutinize the
give ourselves a green; we have good
the Bar. “We are less concerned with
diversity of their law firms and drop those
percentages of women at all levels of the
today’s numbers than with a demonstrated
that don’t measure up.
legal group, but we have to work on getting more minorities in the senior ranks.”
commitment to progress. The survey was intended to provoke discussion.”
After collecting data through the fall of 2005, Accenture analyzed the results and ranked
Accenture has received praise for its
However, it seems that Accenture wants to
its top 15 firms (as determined by billings) as
diversity efforts from legal publications and
see a little more action and a little less talk.
“green,” “yellow,” or “red.” No firm received
organizations that advocate diversity. It
This year, the company plans to resurvey
a green rating.
recently received the first annual Diversity Initiative Achievement Award from the
its outside counsel to see how much they’ve improved, and the firms that haven’t made
“Green means they’re done,” Joel Stern,
National Association of Minority and Women
changes to improve their diversity will be
Accenture Director of Legal Services,
Owned Law Firms. And Corporate Legal
dropped from the company’s roster.
Americas, told In-House Counsel.
Times named Accenture’s law department
continued on back
GCC NEWS FEATURE
ON THE NET
among the “10 Most Innovative Law
And Accenture is putting its money where its
Departments” for setting up a legal service
mouth is with regard to the diversity survey;
center in Mauritius, where the population
just as the company’s outside firms will pay
speaks Dutch, French, and English.
a price based on whether they focus enough
attention on diversity, so will at least one of To bring more diversity into its law
Accenture’s in-house lawyers.
department, Accenture has developed
orientation and mentoring programs for
“I have several diversity goals,” Stern told In-
its minority and women recruits. The
House Counsel. “And my salary and rewards are based on my goals.”
orientation program allows new hires to meet with management-level attorneys as well as representatives from each practice area.
In-House Counsel www.law.com/jsp/ihc/index.jsp
Published on Dec 14, 2012
Accenture Asked 40 Firms On Its Preferred Provider List To Fill Out A Lengthy Diversity Questionnaire. Accenture's Initiative Came From The...