Diversity in Legal Profession Begs Questions for Print Industry

As diversity in law firms improves, these firms will look for a diverse provider



Christine Dunne


Here at Keypoint Intelligence, we are gathering data and information on the legal profession for an upcoming study on trends shaping the sector as well as the ways in which digital imaging vendors are serving this part of the market.


One thing that’s already apparent is a lack of diversity in this industry. According to the “2019 Report on Diversity in US Law Firms”, about 17% of lawyers in the United States are people of color (which includes Hispanic, African American, Asian, Native American, and mixed race). At the same time, these individuals comprise about 40% of the overall population. Another notable statistic is just 10% of law firm partners are people of color.


When it comes to gender, women make up 36% of all lawyers but just 24% of partners (and 21% of equity partners). And when it comes to pay, the average pay for female equity partners is 86% of the average compensation for men (according to the American Bar Association’s 2020 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession report). While law firms have come a long way over the last few decades, it’s clear there’s still room for significant improvement in cultivating and preserving diversity—whether it comes in the form of race, gender, ability, sexual orientation, viewpoint, age, or another trait.


Percentage of Women and People of Color at Law Firms (2019)
Source: 2019 Report on Diversity in US Law Firms


What Does This Have to Do With Digital Imaging?

When digital imaging vendors sell into the legal sector, they aren’t necessarily impacted by the relative homogeneity of its workforce. But as law firms become more diverse over time, they may appreciate working with partners and suppliers that also are committed to improving their diversity.


This point resonated with me a couple weeks ago when I listened in on a Reuters NEXT session titled Break the Mold: Diversity in Tech and Finance. In this session, Alicia Tillman (Global Chief Marketing Officer at SAP) emphasized that a more diverse and inclusive workforce helps SAP come up with a set of products and solutions more catered to its incredibly diverse client base (this includes diversity of geography, size, industry, challenges, and vision). This quote from her sums it up:


“If we want to be able to appeal to a diverse customer base such as that the only way to do that is by employing employees that are also diverse and having them at the table to be able to make decisions when it comes to the technology we are creating and the manner in which we are deploying it. Diversity has to meet diversity. If it's not equal on both sides of the spectrum, then it's going to fail on one side and have ripple effects across the other.”
–SAP Global CMO Alicia Tillman


It appears our industry is coming to realize the benefits of diversity and, in many areas, has made significant strides. For instance, in just two years, Ricoh has seen the percentage of women in meetings that consider important business issues increase from 3% to 12%. And it is aiming to grow the female managers’ ratio in Japan to at least 7% by the end of fiscal 2023.


Graphics from the Ricoh Integrated Report 2020
Source: Ricoh Integrated Report 2020


Ways to Increase Diversity

In the Reuters session, Tillman and Obed Louissaint (Senior Vice President of Transformation and Culture at IBM) suggested a number of ways companies can boost their diversity. This includes:

  • Tracking diversity metrics and setting goals
  • Looking at diversity overall, in management, and among job applicants
  • Creating networks for underrepresented groups that have an executive sponsor
  • Ensuring groups that are hiring are diverse
  • Re-examining number of job specifications (those from underrepresented backgrounds are less likely to apply if they don’t meet all requirements)
  • Using AI to detect unconscious bias in job descriptions and interpretations of language used in applications


Organizations can also make efforts to boost diversity outside of their walls. For instance, IBM has created 1,000 P-TECH internships to increase diversity in tech, and shifted $100 million of investment to historical black colleges and universities to help them prepare students for jobs in areas like AI, blockchain, and security.


Subscribers to our office-based Advisory Services can log in to the InfoCenter to view the full Reuters NEXT show review. Then, in March, we’ll publish the results of our legal study. Not a subscriber? No problem. Just send us an email at sales@keypointintelligence.com for more info.