How Diversity Makes Good Business Sense

Diversity is an asset that adds value both in business development and recruitment

How Diversity Makes Good Business Sense

A diverse workplace is an asset that provides short- and long-term dividends for at least two reasons; client development and recruitment, and retention of skilled staff.

First, regardless of whether the firm is focused on institutional or individual clients, clients are increasingly diverse. As such, a firm that has a strong diversity policy is better positioned to market itself to retain or expand its clientele.

Second, a firm with a robust diversity policy is more attractive to talent.

Diversity is a Pillar of Business Development

Both Merriam-Webster and Oxford Dictionary define “diversity” as including people that are “different,” or more specifically, different “from each other.” Diversity in the workplace includes equality and inclusion of staff from different backgrounds, including different races, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.

However, diversity done well goes beyond simply including persons of different backgrounds to appreciating the strengths and the value these distinguishing features add to the firm.

Hiring staff with diverse backgrounds puts firms in a position to market to and connect with diverse clients. A diverse background ensures your teams are better able to recognize the nuances of how diverse markets conduct business, and what that means in terms of litigation risks, availability of witness and documentary evidence, and practical wrinkles that may be a barrier to dispute resolution. For example, as a tri-lingual commercial litigator, one of my distinguishing features that I have focused my marketing on is my fluency in Cantonese and Mandarin, both orally and written. In many ways, I have focused my marketing on how I am different, and how these differences are assets. Some examples of this include applying those skills to develop oversea connections, understanding records in those languages, and attracting clients that prefer a litigator that speaks their language.

As such, diversity done well is recognizing how each person’s different background brings something more to the table, whether that be a different perspective or subject matter expertise in a particular market.

A diverse firm reflects that the clients we serve are not homogenous. A focus on diversity is in many ways a focus on expanding and deepening a firm’s toolbox in connecting with and providing value to our clients.

Diversity is Crucial in Hiring and Retaining Skilled Staff

A robust diversity policy is crucial to attract the talent necessary to broaden the firm’s toolbox. In that respect, it applies both ways — from the employer perspective, it increases the firm’s access to a larger pool of skilled staff. Just as how the clients we serve are not homogenous, neither are the persons we need to provide services to our clients. Absent a policy and culture that appreciates the importance of a diverse workplace, a firm risks falling behind and unable to attract talent.

Candidates are increasingly interested in how a firm is inclusive. For example, some questions I have commonly been asked by candidates include questions ranging from my comfort level being “out” to coworkers, to whether I felt that there were sufficient or equal career advancement opportunities despite my differences. These types of questions reflect that the extent to which a firm has a culture of diversity and inclusion is a factor considered by candidates.


A diverse workplace is an important asset that permeates both internally and externally, from firm culture and recruitment to client management and development. Beyond being the right thing to do, it is the economically smart thing to do.