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Building a diverse workforce about more than just hiring

Workplace experts say companies that engage their employees in an inclusive way are the most successful at building a diverse workforce.

As businesses become more globalized, workplace diversity has become an imperative.

As businesses become more globalized, workplace diversity has become an imperative.

Whether it’s a regional law firm or a multinational company, workers and clients alike want to do business with and work for an organization that reflects a range of views and backgrounds.

“There’s increasing demand to have diverse teams of lawyers,” said John Frisch, chairman at Baltimore-based Miles & Stockbridge. “As the firm has become diverse, our leadership team is more diverse. We get higher quality decisions when the participants in the groups are more diverse.”

The law firm and other businesses and organizations use an array of methods to not only hire but retain minorities, as well as nurture a culture of inclusion and diversity.

Among them are requiring the interview of at least one minority for every job opening and engaging all employees in large part by building a strong relationship with their immediate supervisor. Other ways are hiring through their existing workforce, investing in their staff and ensuring that work teams, leadership positions and boards of directors have a diverse makeup.

Miles & Stockbridge, which was ranked No. 2 on Law360’s list of the best firms for black attorneys in the nation in 2016, has implemented a range of strategies over the years to hire and retain attorneys of color.

More than 10 percent of the firm’s nonprincipals are black, along with 4.6 percent of the principals. The firm also recently hired a full-time director of diversity and inclusion to grow the firm’s engagement with clients and in the community.

In 2015, the firm started a hiring practice modeled after the National Football League’s “Rooney Rule,” requiring teams to interview at least one minority candidate for each vacant coaching position.

Similarly, Miles & Stockbridge interviews at least one woman, minority or LGBT lawyer for each open position.

The firm has seen a dramatic increase in the diversity of its new hires. In 2016, 48 percent of the firm’s new lawyers were minorities.

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