- 62% of general counsel said they do not require their outside law firms to track their efforts to boost diversity, equity and inclusion among their attorneys, a global survey found.
- Of the 38% of legal chiefs who reported requesting key performance indicators from external counsel regarding DEI, just 7% said they seek this information at an advanced level, according to the report from the Association of Corporate Counsel and the General Counsel Oath initiative.
- Additionally, GCs reported having greater success promoting DEI within their in-house teams than in the broader organizations they work for.
Some legal chiefs have said it’s important to them that outside counsel diversify their ranks of attorneys, and a number of law firms have participated in initiatives designed to promote DEI.
But the survey from ACC and GC Oath completed by 232 general counsel spanning 28 countries indicates the value legal chiefs place on outside counsel diversity may not be as high as anticipated.
Overall, 31% of legal chiefs said they request DEI metrics and measures from law firms at a basic level.
Larger organizations with 50,000 or more employees are roughly five times more likely than smaller organizations with 1,000 or fewer employees to request DEI information from outside law firms, a 75% to 16% disparity, the report found. Additionally, 20% of larger organizations seek such data at an advanced level.
“The use of KPIs does not guarantee immediate progress but those GC who have requested that KPIs be tracked at an advanced level do rate significantly higher progress in achieving their DE&I objectives,” the report said.
Legal chiefs were also asked about the degree to which they have been able to promote DEI progress within their legal teams and broader organizations, using a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
The legal chiefs’ average answer was 8.1 regarding their efforts to foster DEI within their teams and in their approach to hiring.
As far as being able to support DEI progress in their broader organizations, the average answer from GCs was 7.0.
General counsel in larger organizations scored higher than those in smaller organizations, the report said, particularly when it came to supporting diversity in their broader organizations.
“This may indicate that, on average, larger organizations have more support and resources to offer DE&I programs,” the report said.
The survey builds on the General Counsel Oath introduced by Simon Zinger in 2020 and endorsed by many leading global legal chiefs and legal organizations, including ACC. The oath includes a focus on DEI, among other issues.
“Although many GC have identified with the General Counsel Oath, it felt important to ask GC around the world about their perceived levels of actual progress and to consider whether more could be done,” said Zinger, GC of Entain plc, an international sports betting company. “This survey suggests areas where there is still work to do and encourages GC to continue playing leadership roles in progressing DEI inside their organizations.”