by Luis J. Diaz, Esq.
Chief Diversity Officer
Due to market pressures, the business of law is migrating from an informal partnership structure to a more centralized, management structure. Effective administration of processes like marketing, finance, and diversity management can be a qualitative differentiator in the marketplace. The challenge for law firms is to manage these initiatives to bring more value to clients, who are asking firms to build client services into their work product without adding cost.
[sws_pullquote_right]“Effective administration of processes like marketing, finance, and diversity management can be a qualitative differentiator in the marketplace.” [/sws_pullquote_right]
For example, many corporations demand an integrated approach to marketplace, workplace, and supplier diversity, to compete more effectively and to ensure that diverse professionals at majority firms thrive and to create opportunities for M/WBE vendors. Historically, these initiatives have operated separately and with different stakeholders; a new model was required. Our solution was to launch a supplier diversity program, GDI-123, that addresses the different objectives of constituencies in the vendor/client relationship. It is replicable in other professional service industries.
GDI-123 helps Gibbons and clients realize a triple bottom line:
- meeting diverse spend goals with qualified M/WBE vendors;
- utilizing diverse Gibbons attorneys with total quality management of services; and
- obtaining competitive blended rates for legal services and optimum prices for other products and services.
The GDI123 administrator directs the entire business process, so no administrative burden is placed on clients’ in-house personnel.
Diverse spend and resource utilization goals are based on each client’s goals. We maximize diverse attorney utilization and assign projects using proprietary nationwide databases of certified M/WBEs, including client- requested vendors. The GDI-123 administrator negotiates pricing with vendors to ensure competitive blended rates. Upon completion, GDI-123 projects are subjected to a proprietary quality review process.
During service delivery, Gibbons also mentors the M/ WBE providers as required, conducting education sessions to assist with certification, teach best practices, and promote visibility for M/WBEs, helping to increase the ranks of such businesses.
Identifying a large pool of certified M/WBE vendors fosters competition and results in better service, price, and quality. Moreover, M/WBEs are increasing at six times the rate of non-M/ WBE companies in the United States. It simply makes sense for Gibbons to affiliate with such a fast-growing market segment.
By supporting M/WBEs that value inclusion, we help them to succeed and thus support our own corporate values: the more they succeed, the more likely they are to hire and promote a diverse workforce. GDI-123 has so impressed the clients to whom we have presented it that some, in turn, have launched the program within their own companies as an diversity solution with a triple return.
Luis J. Diaz, Esq. is the Chief Diversity Officer of Gibbons P.C. He works with the firm’s Diversity Committee to implement all aspects of its diversity initiatives and manages the firm’s supplier diversity program. Mr. Diaz is also a Director in the firm’s Intellectual Property Department.