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Martin Luther King Day: Diversity is not a short term project

In honour of Martin Luther King day I’d encourage all of our readers to watch this video interview with Jason Thomas, CIO at Cole, Scott & Kissane, who I spoke with last year about the varying progress made by law firms during the black lives matter movement and why it’s important to maintain that momentum. We also discussed how diversity needs to be firm-wide not just focussed on attorneys – equality by its very definition should apply to all employees.

In honour of Martin Luther King day I’d encourage all of our readers to watch this video interview with Jason Thomas, CIO at Cole, Scott & Kissane, who I spoke with last year about the varying progress made by law firms during the black lives matter movement, and why it’s important to maintain momentum. We also discussed how diversity needs to be firm-wide not just focussed on attorneys – equality by its very definition should apply to all employees.

It’s also important that the issue of lack of racial equality is de-politicised. Thomas said: “It seems that every topic in the United States is politicised but this is a humanitarian and public health issue.”

Racial diversity efforts need to come from the top and involve systemic changes to the way that firms hire, including potentially a blind hiring approach.

This conversation happened not long after the BLM movement and Thomas said: “When things are hot everyone wants to jump on the train – let’s not turn this into a short term project. This has to be an ongoing initiative.” Today we should all take time to reflect on that.

Last year Legal Week conducted a survey where at even the best performing firms in terms of racial diversity, less than 5% of lawyers are black, meaning they are missing out on racially diverse talent. Thomas said: “Firms need to show potential hires that the company is making effort – people don’t want a website where there is no-one that looks like them. People look at that now and know what kind of people companies are hiring.”

You can watch the conversation on Litera TV in full here: https://www.litera.com/litera-tv/episodes/jason-thomas-8-7/