Q&A -Why Diversity Matters: Its Importance to Morris Nichols
Q: What are we talking about when we say “diversity” with respect to Morris Nichols?
A: Diversity is the quality of a law firm that embraces people with different backgrounds, experiences, styles, perspectives, values and beliefs, and that allows these individuals to feel included and encourages them to succeed without suppressing these differences.
Q: Why does diversity matter?
A: A diverse workforce is in Morris Nichols’ long-term interests. Our Firm benefits from the wisdom that diversity brings. A successful diversity initiative will improve our ability to recruit the best candidates and retain valued employees. It will also increase the morale, productivity and commitment of our team.
Q: Is diversity a politically correct term for affirmative action?
A: No—our diversity initiative is an attempt to enable a diverse set of people to succeed here and to appreciate and value each other’s differences. It is not a justification for double standards or for lowering of quality. Rather, diversity means recognizing that differences do matter—that they do impact the way in which we perceive, communicate and relate to each other at the Firm and to our clients.
Q: What sort of efforts are we talking about?
A: Encouraging a culture that successfully motivates and empowers all of our people, regardless, and in part because, of their differences. We want to create an atmosphere of inclusion in which differences are not merely tolerated, but valued as promoting creativity and innovation. We want to maximize the potential of each individual.
Q: Who is leading the effort?
A: The Executive Committee’s efforts provide vision and leadership to weave the strength of diversity into the fabric of the Firm. It will ensure that the Diversity Committee and others have the resources necessary to move forward.
Q: What will the Diversity Committee be doing?
A: The Diversity Committee will oversee a process of creating and maintaining a positive work environment that values the similarities and differences of all individuals so that everyone can reach their potential, learn from each other, and fully contribute to our strategic objectives.
Q: Are there concrete benefits to the Firm?
A: There are many. Recruiting is a clear example. To be competitive for the best talent, we need to provide an environment appealing to everyone we recruit. A firm that is known to support the diversity of its team will be a magnet in recruiting across all groups.
Q: So is it really just about recruiting?
A: Not at all. If we can effectively support diversity, we can reduce issues that limit people from operating at their best. Individuals who are comfortable where they work and are confident they have the opportunity to succeed are likely to stay with the Firm and grow with it. Feeling undervalued or marginalized prevents an individual from full commitment to the Firm. Individuals who feel engaged and empowered produce quality work and have good morale. Moreover, where diversity is encouraged, individuals of all backgrounds will be more comfortable with innovation, and more likely to innovate themselves.
Q: Are there other benefits?
A: Diversity can definitely be an issue with clients, some of whom expressly seek out diverse attorneys, and some of whom may become uncomfortable with an obvious lack of diversity. This is an area where we can be proactive, and avoid issues that may be created by a lack of diversity.
Q: Is this a “new page” for Morris Nichols?
A: These ideas are consistent with Morris Nichols’ deeply engrained culture. The Firm has always respected merit and individuality as primary values. That said, we can always improve, and recognize that respecting and encouraging merit is not enough. We must understand and embrace differences.
Q: Is this just this year’s model?
A: Morris Nichols is committed to diversity. Increasing the visibility and understanding of diversity is a mission critical to the Firm. Diversity as a goal for the Firm is not going away.