Irish-trained lawyer Ronan MacSweeney, who now lives in Australia, and trainee Nina Jayne Carroll (Matheson) spoke at this week’s Shrink Me session on the psychology of belonging (30 May).
The Law Society’s John Lunney asked whether diversity and inclusion could be treated as a box-ticking item by law firms.
MacSweeney responded that ticking the boxes was acceptable, in that it could start a conversation.
The motives for why organisations got involved were unimportant, he said; what mattered was the delivery of outcomes.
MacSweeney said that there was a business case for wider inclusion, in that people who felt valued were more likely to remain as an employee.
Diversity of people also led to diversity of perspective and, therefore, a wider spectrum of solutions, he added.
The people-centric reason for diversity and inclusion was that it was the right thing to do, MacSweeney stated.
Nina Jayne Carroll said that diversity initiatives should ideally come together in a natural and organic fashion.
Diversity in client base was also important, because it brought a different perspective and energy to the law firm, she said.
MacSweeney said that if firms did not collect visible data on the make-up and composition of employees, it was very hard to drive the case for a more inclusive work environment.
“Ultimately, if you want to make a case, you have to have the evidence to prove it,” he said.
MacSweeney said that the purchasing power of big law could be used, by asking those tendering to provide services for their diversity and inclusion (D+I) data.