Is ROI the Appropriate Measure for D&I?

  • 23 Oct 2019
  • 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM
  • EXELON, 10 S. Dearborn, Chicago


  • Complimentary registration for speakers and presenters at the event

Return on Investment (“ROI”)


  • The profit from an activity for a particular period compared with the amount invested in it

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the legal profession certainly wants to flatter the world of business. The past decade or two has seen the legal profession adopt and imitate the structure, personnel, protocols, and values of the business world. Our profession now boasts Talent and People Officers, business plans, and articulated core values. We use acronyms like KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), ERGs (Employee Resource Groups), and EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs). It’s understandable given that the business world comprises the clientele of so many lawyers and law firms. And if it encourages efficiency, productivity, and a better way to meet the needs of employees, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

But how do we determine whether a business value is the right one for the legal profession? If you’ve been involved in D&I (“Diversity and Inclusion”) in the legal profession, you can’t help but be well aware that budgets aren’t infinite and fundraising and financial sponsorships play a determinative role in which D&I efforts/programs/initiatives/etc. get to see the light of day. Competition for D&I dollars can be fierce. And more and more often, funders – law firms and corporate law departments – will query the ROI. What return can they expect for any particular D&I activity? Will their lawyers return with new business if they send them to a minority bar convention? Will they be able to market their inclusion on a “best of” list or herald their designation as the winner of an award if they sponsor an event? Will their lawyers get to network with high-powered business executives if they sponsor or underwrite a reception? Mind you, none of this is “bad” in and of itself. But it does raise the question: is one of the reasons the legal profession continues to lag behind other professions in terms of its diversity because as a profession we continue to fund D&I in ways that generate returns that may not actually advance D&I in a meaningful way? Is ROI the right measure for D&I? If it is, how do we make sure that efforts that may be meaningful and have significant impact but not result in obvious returns can still get adequate funding? If not, what might be a better way to think about distinguishing among the myriad D&I offerings and limited resources and appropriately assessing and evaluating D&I efforts?

As the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (“IILP”) celebrates its 10th anniversary, please join us for an unprecedented discussion addressing whether ROI is the appropriate measure for D&I:

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Program: 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Reception: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

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10 S. Dearborn 


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