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Microsoft Willing to Pay for Diversity

Well, if law firms won't increase the number of women and minority hires because it's the right thing to do or even because it's what clients want, then by golly, maybe they'll do it for cash.  That's apparently the theory behind Microsoft's new diversity initiative that will award bonuses to outside counsel based on their inclusion of minority and women attorneys, reports the National Law Journal.  Firms that participate in the diversity initiative can earn an extra two percent bonus on top of the three percent increases that all seventeen of Microsoft's preferred firms are eligible to receive in FY 2009. 

Firms that choose to participate in Microsoft's diversity initiative -- which is strictly voluntary -- must agree to allow Microsoft to track diversity progress.  Firms can demonstrate improvement and qualify for bonuses by either (1)showing a two percent increase in hours worked by diverse attorneys on Microsoft matters over the previous year; or (2)showing a .5 percent increase in total diverse attorneys as a percentage of the firms' total attorneys.  Oh, and by the way, firms can't use contract attorneys, whose ranks are  disproportionately comprised of minorities,to meet diversity requirements.

Microsoft's diversity goals don't seem very demanding but then again, firms may not find a two percent bonus worth changing business as usual.  What do you think? Will the Microsoft initiative succeed?  Or are firms better off achieving diversity not by extending a golden carrot but by wielding a big stick and dumping those firms that fail to meet diversity requirements.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on July 21, 2008 at 02:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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