Throughout my career, I have worked to make our profession more diverse and more accepting of a difference in thought, experience and perspective. I have personally traveled to firms, sat down with partners, worked through plans and reviewed scorecards. I have probably spent thousands of hours doing this. It’s incredibly disheartening to see stagnant progress and a precipitous decline in Black lawyers. It felt like the right time to try a new approach.
I feel a responsibility to give our work to firms who share our commitment to diversity, inclusion and belonging. Not a mission statement or hypothetical future plan but truly share our commitment and feel an urgency to accelerate our stagnant progress as a profession. Our profession should reflect the population we serve. It’s the right thing to do and our work will be better for it.
I hope to make it unequivocally clear that there is demand for diverse teams of lawyers and the firms who foster their growth. Quite simply, the work is stronger, and we achieve better business outcomes with a diversity of thought, experience and perspective working on our matters. I hope this is a first step to ensure thoughtful consideration around how work is assigned, who is getting origination and relationship credits and ultimately, encourage more diverse hiring practices.
This is an unnecessarily stubborn issue. We have all the tools available to fix it. I hope that organizations are inspired to enact similar. Coca-Cola is just one company and we could change our industry very quickly if these kinds of guidelines became the standard.
Bradley M Gayton is senior vice president and global general counsel at Coca-Cola