Microsoft expands diversity incentives for law firms it does business with

Kellogg Brengel

Microsoft expands diversity incentives for law firms it does business with

Like most organizations, Microsoft has had their occasional gaffe in regards to diversity. Still, they have recently been emphasizing their commitment to increasing diversity and awareness in the workplace. And now, Microsoft is expanding one of their more innovative diversity programs to encourage law firms they do business with to have more diverse leadership.

Microsoft has been fostering diversity amongst law firms they contract with using their Law Firm Diversity Program since 2008. This program provides incentives for firms by paying out a bonus at the end of the fiscal year equivalent to up to 2% of their fees for the year if they have met certain goals in promoting diversity within their own organization. Microsoft announced today that they are changing the criteria to base the annual bonus on the firm’s performance in increasing diversity in three dimensions of their leadership. They are:

  • Leading the management of the law firm.
  • Leading the law firm’s relationship with Microsoft.
  • Leading work on Microsoft’s legal matters.

With this recent change to the program Microsoft is encouraging more diversity not among the lawyers representing Microsoft but at the firms’ overall leadership levels.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s General Counsel and Executive VP for Legal and Corporate Affairs, wrote in the post the reasons for the change in the program were twofold. One, that it had been such a successful program since 2008 from their point of view, having an impact on business results and helping them and their legal teams be more creative and be able to better understand legislators, regulators, and customers around the world. Secondly, statistically, diversity among law firm leadership ranks even lower than among law firms as a whole. Smith goes on to say:

“All of this has inspired us to take our next step. As we do so, we’ve concluded that it’s important now to focus on promoting more diversity in leadership positions in law firms.”

You can learn more about Microsoft’s LawFirm Diversity Program on the Microsoft on the Issues blog post.