Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Leading Courageously With Data To Diversify The Legal Profession

Evan Parker (Founder, Parker Analytics), Leading Courageously With Data:


The graphic above tracks demographic representation across 12 law firms working for BASF Corporation, 2016 to 2021. On average, shares of BASF work grew +11% for diverse ethnicity partners and +46% for associates. For women, shares grew +24% for partners and +28% for associates. Additionally (not pictured), ethnicity and gender representation in firmwide leadership grew +10%.

What explains this blockbuster growth? To me, it’s the courageous leaders using data to achieve a shared mission.

Each year, BASF’s in-house leaders request diversity data from outside counsel. Parker Analytics (PA) then prepares individualized data scorecards and action items, which BASF shares with its firms. As the graphic clarifies, firm leaders responded, driving growth in diverse representation in BASF legal teams and the firm overall.

The most successful data projects I know include a shared mission—between clients and firms, firm leaders and analysts, etc. Achieving mission goals together enriches these professional relationships. So, in leading courageously with data you are powering a virtuous cycle.

To use data courageously you must do three things well: (1) lead with a single number, (2) build transparently, and (3) be flexible. When these features are present—as with BASF’s diversity program and others I’ll describe below—a data system for decisions can produce a Hollywood ending on par with Moneyball.

Disclosure: Obviously, BASF is a client of Parker Analytics. To its credit, BASF is sharing its learning with other legal departments and law firms. See, e.g., Phillip Bantz, “Q&A: BASF Legal Chief on Driving Diversity at Law Firms: Carrots Are More Effective Than Sticks,” Corp Counsel, May 10, 2022 (interviewing BASF General Counsel Matt Lepore on the company’s approach to diversity).

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