Early in my career, I worked as a buyer for @MarksandSpencer and @Next. These organisations were early trail-blazers for developing ethical supply chains, and there were many occasions when despite the product and price being right, I rejected a factory/supplier because the treatment of the workforce and the associated workplace benefits were not up to scratch. This ethos was driven because we knew our customers wanted to buy products that were free from employee exploitation.
20 years on, a similar zeitgeist is driving the UK Legal sector now. A recent report from Forbes, https://lnkd.in/eaqud3RP highlights how Law firms are being put under increasing pressure to demonstrate their commitment to Diversity Equity and Inclusion by meeting verifiable targets, such as the appropriate ratio of diversity in their partners, associates and other lawyers who will deliver services, and able to prove equity in pay.
Such benchmarks have moved from desirable to mandatory:
- Recently, a UK energy company selected their 12 advisory law firms following a detailed review of their commitment to DEI.
- A global beverage company’s shortlist of law firms for consideration, only included those who met its stringent diversity criteria.
- A multinational pharmaceutical company renewed its legal panel earlier this year, based on those law firms prepared to link billable time to meeting diversity and inclusion objectives. As the saying goes - ‘Follow the money’.
Law panel appointments can be worth tens of millions a year and law firms don’t want to lose those opportunities because of failure to meet diversity and inclusion parameters. So just as customers influenced retail supply chain decisions all those years ago, the noise from other stakeholders clamouring for change is increasing, which organisations know they cannot afford. This ‘train is leaving the station’ and we should expect more and more industry sectors to follow suit.
Which stakeholders are driving your 'DEI train'?