Diversity, equity, inclusion in legal field: a talk with Jean Lee (MCCA)

The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) in partnership with Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA) announced last year the latest benchmark research assessing diverse and inclusive leadership within the legal profession: Leading Through Crisis. Diversity, equity, inclusion, along with the enduring effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, have been headline issues in 2020 and will be in 2021. Inhousecommunityus.com talked to Jean Lee, President & CEO  Minority Corporate Counsel Association.

What are in your views the main highlights of the report?

Attorneys are expecting more from their leaders and they have failed to meet the expectations of their teams and colleagues.  The importance of tone at the top and consistency in driving that message.

Why aren’t there significant progress in diversity and inclusion in the legal sector?

The commitment to truly seeing change is recent, most are trying to figure out what significant change means, it’s a lot of work to change systems and thus culture and mindset, and lack of accountability.

Compared to other sectors, what you feel is still missing to foster an inclusive leadership?

An understanding of what inclusive leadership means for those who are leading.  Most assume they know but when you see the results of the survey and feedback from employees, you see that leaders are not as aware of those behaviors.  More importantly, there is not much transparency about what leaders are doing to improve their leadership style to be more inclusive.

What actions still need to be implemented in the legal department to achieve an equal future?

Education, education, education.  Then, changing systems that have perpetuated inequitable distribution of opportunity and those that prohibited progress of women and under-represented racial and ethnic groups.  Finally, ongoing training of those who are leading and not only middle managers or staff.  I mean it needs to start with the Board, CEO and trickle down to better understand and appreciate differences outside of the corporate mold.

Diversity, equity, inclusion in legal field: a talk with Jean Lee (MCCA)

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