Skip to main content
RECOMMENDATION O PERATIONALIZE ACTION 4

Redesign systems, including hiring, retention and promotion systems, to remove bias

Despite inclusive values held by many people in companies, organizational processes, systems, and structures often contain unconscious and unintentional bias. Those issues must be identified and systems should be redesigned. The point is not to fix people from underrepresented groups by encouraging them to behave more like people from majority groups, but to fix the biased system itself. Start-ups can build in best practices, introduce training, and create inclusive systems right from the beginning. Systems should be redesigned. The point is not to fix people from underrepresented groups by encouraging them to behave more like people from majority groups, but to fix the biased system itself. Start-ups can build in best practices, introduce training and create inclusive systems right from the beginning.

HIGH LEVERAGE POINTS

recruiting systems
middle managers
dei data infrastructure
product inclusion

CHANGE AGENTS

CEOs
CEOs
CDOs
CDOs
C-Suite
C-Suite
Managers
Managers
Team Members
Start Ups

IN SUMMARY

4.1

Invest in middle managers’ success, train them to be inclusive leaders, then hold them accountable for meeting DEI goals.

4.2

Design recruiting and interview systems to drive out bias.

4.3

Design feedback and promotion systems to minimize bias and reward inclusion.

4.4

Reduce bias in task assignment and work allocation. Introduce a process to spread stretch assignments beyond favored groups.

4.5

Improve sponsorship, allyship, and mentorship opportunities, and ensure the opportunities you personally provide are balanced among different communities.

4.6

Use ERGs to support employee development, create community, and contribute to business outcomes, but not as a substitute for a DEI strategy.

4.7

Evaluate what works and what doesn’t.

MORE INFO

THE MANSFIELD RULE

The Mansfield Rule “measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered at least 30% women, lawyers of color, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions.”1 This rule is based on the finding among behavioral science researchers that if a hiring pool has just one woman or minority candidate, there is statistically no chance that they’ll get hired.2 Researchers have found that members of underrepresented groups must make up at least 30% of the pool to disrupt bias.

The Mansfield Rule requires firms to participate in regular knowledge-sharing during the course of a 12-month certification period, on the principle that by working collectively and sharing best practices and lessons learned, firms can move the needle faster than if they work in isolation to reach their goals. The results of implementing this rule have had a measurable effect on the legal industry. Among the 117 law firms that have adopted the rule:

  • For underrepresented racial and ethnic lawyers, Mansfield 1.0 firms (early adopters of the rule) diversified their management committees at more than 30 times the rate of non-Mansfield firms during the 2017-2019 time frame. Non-Mansfield firms, on average, only saw an overall increase in management committee racial diversity of one-tenth of 1% (0.13%) over the same time frame.
  • The racial and ethnic diversity of non-Mansfield firms’ partner nomination committees declined since 2017, while Mansfield 1.0 firms increased, achieving an overall increase of nearly 4% during the 2017-2019 time frame. And, importantly, statistical modeling predicts this number will continue to climb for Mansfield firms.
  • Racially diverse lawyers at early-adopter Mansfield firms are progressing into the partnership at a statistically higher percentage than they were pre-Mansfield. 1.0 firms also leaped ahead of non-Mansfield firms during the 2017-2019 time frame. They reached 10.5% racially diverse partners in 2019, while non-Mansfield firms were at 9.1%. This variance is meaningful since all large law firms, on average, only increased by 0.2% each year with regard to racial diversity in their partnerships based on broader data from 2007-2019.
  • Women lawyers at early-adopter Mansfield firms are progressing into leadership—as part of management committees, partner review committees, and the partnership as a whole—at a statistically higher percentage than they were pre-Mansfield.

In addition:

  • 94% reported that their candidate pool for pitch teams became more diverse.
  • 79% reported that their lateral partner hiring pool was more diverse, and 
  • 76% said their equity partner promotions pool was more diverse.
  • 57% elected or appointed a higher percentage of diverse lawyers into office managing partner roles.

Prior to participating in the Mansfield Rule, only 12% of firms tracked their candidates for leadership roles and 25% tracked their candidates for lateral partner hiring; now, 100% are tracking these candidate pools.

The tech industry should similarly adopt policies inspired by the Mansfield Rule.

Footnotes:

The Mansfield Rule “measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered at least 30% women, lawyers of color, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions.” This rule is based on the finding among behavioral science researchers that if a hiring pool has just one woman or minority candidate, there is statistically no chance that they’ll get hired.

READ MORE

Model and incentivize inclusive leadership
ACTION 1
Increase Expertise
ACTION 2
Establish Business Imperative
Operationalize DEI throughout the business
ACTION 3
Resource DEI
ACTION 4
Redesign Systems
ACTION 5
Apply DEI to Products
Share DEI data, metrics, and goals
ACTION 6
Share Data
ACTION 7
Set Public Goals
Transform pathways into tech for under-represented talent
ACTION 8
Advocate for CS
ACTION 9
Create More CS Teachers
ACTION 10
Invest in Organizations