The Law Society Gazette reports that HP has issued a ‘diversity holdback’ mandate to ensure that the external legal advice it receives is consistent with the company's diversity values. The policy applies to race or ethnicity, gender, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) status, and disability status. A female, racially or ethnically diverse attorney who performs or manages at least 10% of the billable hours would meet the requirement.
Will other companies follow suit? The mandate underlines the importance clients put on a diverse workforce.
US tech company HP has threatened to withhold up to 10% of costs invoiced by law firms if they do not meet minimum diversity requirements. In a letter sent to law firm partners last week, Kim Rivera, chief legal officer and general counsel, said HP has implemented a ‘diversity holdback’ mandate. Explaining the initiative, Rivera said HP’s vision ‘is to create technology that makes the world a better place for everyone, everywhere. To achieve that vision, business leaders must represent diversity of our customers and stakeholders’. With women representing more than 55% of HP’s workforce in the legal function, Rivera said HP have invested in driving diversity at all levels, ‘and I expect no less from our outside law firm partners. I believe we can all do better’.