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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

diversity issues?”

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

efforts.

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

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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

Accenture

speaks Dutch, French, and English.

a price based on whether they focus enough

www.accenture.com

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

www.dlapiper.com/Home.aspx

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.

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Consulting Giant Demands Diversity among Outside Counsel