Committee Reports

2015 Diversity Benchmarking Report

After a decade of collecting diversity and inclusion metrics from signatory law firms and reporting stalled progress for minority and women attorneys, the New York City Bar Association (“City Bar”) Committee to Enhance Diversity in the Profession created a Task Force to review the benchmarking survey and recommend updates to strengthen the impact of the resulting data. Consequently, the 2015 Diversity Benchmarking Survey included several significant changes which are reflected in this year’s report.

First, participation in the survey was mandatory in order to be listed as a signatory to the City Bar Statement of Diversity Principles. As a result, signatory law firm participation in the survey nearly doubled, thus providing robust data not available in 2014 and a more accurate reflection of our signatory firms. We applaud the 75 law firms that have committed the time and energy to participate.

Additionally, for the first time since we began administering the survey in 2004, we requested a breakdown of individual racial/ethnic groups for men and women, rather than data on “minority attorneys” as an aggregate. This important change allows us to report specific details in each category where representative data was collected. We believe this specificity will allow the firms to explore challenges in a more nuanced way and create solutions tailored to a diverse population of lawyers.

To contextualize the data and empower law firms to look beyond the numbers to measure progress, the survey included three new sections: questions on workflow and bonus structures within the firm, engagement in pipeline efforts, and a “better practices” section to highlight initiatives that yield results within each firm. We have highlighted several of these initiatives throughout the report, in hopes that the information will inspire and connect firms facing similar challenges.

Reflecting on a decade of collecting and reporting data, one thing is patently clear: transparency and collaboration are necessary to effect meaningful change. The updates to the survey have equipped the City Bar with more detailed content to illustrate successes and challenges, so we are better positioned to advise our signatory firms and arm them with data to better guide and inform their efforts. It is our intent that this report—along with the individualized, confidential reports sent to each firm participant—will offer new, powerful tools to streamline each firm’s efforts while also allowing for greater accountability and collaboration. Since “you can’t fix what you can’t measure,” we consider this data collection to be a critical element in moving the needle toward quantitative and qualitative improvements within our firms and within our profession.