Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are becoming more important for companies in all industries, particularly those that strive to represent the values behind DEI at their workplace. Keeping DEI front of mind at your immigration law firm can help you support your team, attract diverse candidates, and overall lead by example by creating an inclusive culture.
In this article, we will define DEI, how it can benefit organizations in all industries, including law, and some ways immigration lawyers can use DEI as a guiding framework for hiring decisions and more.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, commonly referred to as DEI, is a framework for social reform applied to professional environments according to the US Chamber of Commerce. To understand how to take simple and effective steps toward making your firm more diverse and inclusive, let’s look at what diversity, equity, and inclusion are on their own.
Diversity involves people’s “race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, (dis)ability, age, religious commitment or political perspective.” In the immigration industry, working in diverse teams can help your firm establish trust with different communities and understand different perspectives. And as we will see further down when we discuss the benefits of DEI, a diverse work environment increases productivity and innovation and is generally perceived as a better workplace.
Equity “promotes justice, impartiality, and fairness within the procedure, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems.” This involves creating an environment where everyone is empowered to achieve. In your immigration law firm, that may involve treating all team members and clients with respect and ensuring your rules, policies, and processes are applied the same way to everyone.
Lastly, inclusion “ensures people of all diverse backgrounds are welcome and have a seat at the table.” Some examples of inclusivity at a law firm can be giving a variety of staff members the opportunity to weigh in on cases, to continue their education and advance their careers, and to influence the direction of your firm’s business, among other things.
When you put this all together and practice it consistently, DEI creates a work environment where everyone can thrive and feel supported and welcome.
DEI is important to bring to any business, And for staff to see the benefits, they have to see DEI principles in practice. Indeed, if you cultivate an environment where your staff feels acknowledged, supported, and received equal opportunities to succeed, that in itself is a great benefit. However, there are also clear advantages that practicing DEI creates from a business standpoint that can directly affect your firm’s success. Let’s look at some of these benefits.
Studies report that in firms where DEI is part of the culture, employees report being more engaged at work and rate their firms as good places to work. Immigration law strives to provide equality in opportunity and access to professionals and families, and immigrants are a source of diversity for a country. As a result, it’s likely important for those working for immigration law firms to perceive DEI as an important part of their firm’s ethos, which in turn would make them proud of their place of work and be more engaged and productive in their work.
Leading human resource management company Qualtrics, citing a study by renowned business consulting firm McKinsey, looked at results from ethnically and gender-diverse firms and concluded that both saw increases in revenue due to the diversity of their staff. Other studies have concluded that diverse companies make better decisions than those that don’t benefit from decision-making in diverse environments.
A Harvard Business Review report showed that firms that practice DEI have a high likelihood of growth, not just through getting new clients or markets but by getting more of them. This is because diversity and inclusivity create an environment where professionals are supported and encouraged to take risks and implement new initiatives, including business development and marketing initiatives. Ideas from a diverse workforce will include insights from individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences, which can help you tap into clients you may not have been able to reach before.
The interest in promoting DEI in the workplace increased tremendously after a wave of social activism in 2020 in particular. Since then, resources and a general understanding of this topic have become even more available, with a range of experts now providing corporate DEI services, for example. For immigration law firms looking to implement DEI-based initiatives, here are some ways to do so at your firm visibly and effectively.
If you’re unsure of where to start or where you may need to improve, go through this checklist with your leadership team first, then with your staff to see where you notice commonalities and what people point out as the most glaring issues regarding DEI. Feedback from stakeholders will help you create meaningful action plans and address the change that those working with you see as most necessary.
Immigration lawyers of all stripes ultimately help others. If you practice business immigration, you’re contributing to diversity among your clients’ workforce. If you practice family-based immigration, you’re contributing to the country’s diversity. Make this alignment front and center of your firm’s brand via your website and social media presence.
If you’re having trouble hiring more diverse staff members, consider how you’re sourcing candidates and whether the way you advertise job openings at your immigration law firm reaches different groups of people. Additionally, supporting the professional development of all your staff members is another way to promote DEI and elevate the individuals in your firm, particularly those from underrepresented groups.
When it comes to DEI, learning by doing goes a long way. This includes keeping lines of conversation open and learning from others that promote inclusivity and equity in business practices. For more ideas on how to do that in a small business setting, here are some easy-to-implement ideas from leading platforms, tools to test accessibility, inclusive language templates for blogs and other marketing materials, and much more.
As your firm continues to evolve into a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, and growth follows, you will need a case management platform that helps you run your business effectively.
With a full library of immigration forms, easy-to-use client questionnaires, and industry-leading API integrations, Docketwise assists you in managing all your immigration cases, communicating easily with your clients, and building and managing your immigration law firm.