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Profiles in Diversity Journal Recognizes Robins Kaplan with Award of Excellence for Groundbreaking Diversity Initiative

LEAD Program Holds Firm Leaders Accountable for Progress on Diversity and Inclusion

Minneapolis, MN—August 30, 2017—Robins Kaplan LLP® is proud to announce that one of the firm’s key diversity initiatives, Leaders Engaged in the Advancement of Diversity (LEAD), has been recognized by Profiles in Diversity Journal and will receive an Award of Excellence as part of its annual Innovations in Diversity Awards.

“Robins Kaplan’s commitment to diversity and inclusion dates back to the firm’s founding in 1938 by two lawyers who had experienced religious discrimination,” said Martin Lueck, chairman of Robins Kaplan’s Executive Board. “Our LEAD program represents a new way of thinking about diversity initiatives, and its effects have been dramatic. It’s another step forward for our firm in this area, and we’re grateful for the recognition it has received.”

Starting from a premise that progress on diversity requires commitment from the very top, Robins Kaplan’s LEAD program vests responsibility for diversity goals with the firm’s executive board, practice group leaders, and office managing partners. Projects growing out of LEAD come from firm leadership, and thus receive appropriate support from personnel throughout the firm. The results have been immediate, tangible, and transformative. The program’s successes to date include:

  • A hiring initiative, modeled on the National Football League’s “Rooney Rule,” requiring the firm to interview diverse candidates for lateral associate positions; in the first year after the rule was implemented, the firm increased its hiring of associates of color by 20 percent, and those identifying as LGBTQ by 13 percent;
  • A program through which the firm tracks metrics relating to work allocation, to address potential unconscious bias in the way work is distributed; and
  • A parental leave policy that is among the most supportive in the legal industry; it provides 10 weeks of paid parental leave for all firm members, a parental leave mentoring program, alternative work arrangement options, and a return-to-work protocol allowing parents to transition back at a reasonable pace.

“Programs developed through LEAD have led to positive change and, cumulatively, they have caused mindfulness of diversity and inclusion to become ingrained more deeply into the firm’s culture,” said Chandra Kilgriff, director of Diversity and Inclusion. “That is the best result that a diversity innovation can hope for—and under LEAD, it comes straight from the top.”

Now in its fourteenth year, the Innovations in Diversity Awards honor corporations, organizations, and institutions that have developed innovative solutions in the area of workforce diversity and inclusion. The innovations and successes of this year’s recipients will be featured in Profiles in Diversity Journal’s fall 2017 issue.