I am on a subscription list for Altman Weil, Inc., which is one of the major consulting groups for law firms. This report on "diversity managers" in large law firms caught my eye. Drawing upon recent survey data, the report provides various breakdowns of firms with diversity managers; and among those that have them (~ 50%, with another 11+% expecting to add such a position in 2007), what is their educational background, salary, responsibilities, and status within the firm.
The sample suffers from a low response rate (72 of 196 responses = 37%); firms with diversity managers are almost certainly overrepresented. Nonetheless, the numbers (and high salaries and, for partners, reduced billing requirements) suggests the emergence of a potentially large trend.
My own research in this area causes me to separate out the concept of a diversity manager, which sounds appealing and substantial, from changes to law firms' underlying institutional incentives. In other words, do these diversity manager have any muscle vis-a-vis firm management (e.g., work assignments, mentoring, who makes partner, etc.) ? As the chart below suggests [click on to enlarge], the answer is usually no.