Diversity Candidate?

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Diversity Candidate?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 10, 2020 3:52 am

Asking for a friend. What are the implications of a recruiter pitching you as a "diversity candidate"? Aside from the obvious that you check off either an LGBTQ, Ethnicity, etc. box for diversity purposes. Does this mean you're basically 2nd rate or unqualified otherwise? Does it mean you'd be first to be fired if a firm goes south? Any other considerations?

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Sackboy

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Re: Diversity Candidate?

Post by Sackboy » Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:02 am

Your friend should just ask the recruiter what the recruiter means to imply with their "diversity candidate" pitch. It could be that your friend is qualified and the firm is looking for diversity, so your friend is being advised to tailor their application to emphasize their diversity. It could also mean that your friend is under-qualified and the recruiter is hoping to use their diversity as a way to make up lost ground. Either way, there is some assumption that the hiring firm cares about diversity.

The first people who get fired when things go south are shitty workers. You're not going to get fired first by being the diversity guy or gal unless your firm likes to actively practice and get sued for discrimination. Once you're in the door at an employer, if you prove you're useful, your shelf life is instantly longer than the useless folks, despite how any of you slid in the door.

dvlthndr

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Re: Diversity Candidate?

Post by dvlthndr » Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:16 am

It means that the firm would prefer to hire somebody who is “diverse” over a cis white het man with identical qualifications.

Why does the firm want that? Who knows. Many firms like to pitch themselves as being open and inclusive, and some clients prefer to work with firms who can demonstrate their commitments to being open and inclusive (all else being equal).

In terms of longevity, nobody with an ounce of sense would go out of their way to fire “diversity” hires first. People who underperform get put on the chopping block. But you better be *sure* they are underperforming (and have the documentation to back it up) before you chop somebody who could bring a colorable discrimination claim against you.

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Re: Diversity Candidate?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 10, 2020 12:57 pm

Thank you both! I will relay this back to my friend.

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Re: Diversity Candidate?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 10, 2020 2:14 pm

I am URM associate in biglaw (5+ years). I would disagree with the two posts above me about the up-and-out decisions being as simple as underperformers = those who get pushed out. There's more nuance than that, especially when one's race or ethnicity (etc.) can unconsciously bias people against you. There are many issues at play and different firms handle things in ways more or less conscious of the bias that exists in the system.

But more to the point, the whole question is pretty surprising to me. I used a recruiter a few years ago and have talked to a few others in depth over the course of my career, and I have no idea what it means to be pitched as a "diversity candidate." Frankly, that would set off more alarm bells for me about the recruiter than the firm.

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Anonymous User
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Re: Diversity Candidate?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 2:14 pm
I am URM associate in biglaw (5+ years). I would disagree with the two posts above me about the up-and-out decisions being as simple as underperformers = those who get pushed out. There's more nuance than that, especially when one's race or ethnicity (etc.) can unconsciously bias people against you. There are many issues at play and different firms handle things in ways more or less conscious of the bias that exists in the system.

But more to the point, the whole question is pretty surprising to me. I used a recruiter a few years ago and have talked to a few others in depth over the course of my career, and I have no idea what it means to be pitched as a "diversity candidate." Frankly, that would set off more alarm bells for me about the recruiter than the firm.
Really appreciate this insight! Do you think being introduced as a "diversity candidate" would worsen that unconscious bias? Without compromising your anonymity, can you provide some things my friend should be aware of or consider?

I've never used a recruiter myself, what would the take away be for my friend when it comes to alarm bells about the recruiter? Do you recommend any specific recruiter or recruiting firm that I can direct my friend to (again without compromising your anonymity)?

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Re: Diversity Candidate?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:25 pm

“Diversity hires” are usually 1L urm hires from top schoools or top grades or both, so it wouldn’t be a “hit” against a urm candidate - probably a plus. Being URM in big law, however, is tough. And the cards are stacked against you in terms of longevity, “diversity hire” or not.

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Re: Diversity Candidate?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 11, 2020 12:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:25 pm
“Diversity hires” are usually 1L urm hires from top schoools or top grades or both, so it wouldn’t be a “hit” against a urm candidate - probably a plus. Being URM in big law, however, is tough. And the cards are stacked against you in terms of longevity, “diversity hire” or not.
I'm not in Big Law myself so is there anything you would be willing to share about how the cards are stacked against an URM candidate in Big Law that I can relay to my friend about? Thanks in advance!

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Re: Diversity Candidate?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 11, 2020 11:36 am

The toughest thing about being a URM in biglaw, in my experience, is overcoming unconscious bias and getting enough work. Partners naturally gravitate to associates who are similar to them (which tends to be other wealthy white men) and box out URM, especially URM women, either blatantly or unconsciously. Without enough work, it's hard to get enough hours, and URMs end up being shown the door over "performance issues." In addition, there's an unconscious expectation for URMs to participate in diversity activites (such as affinity groups or diversity recruiting) which isn't given billable credit, and this also contributes to low hours for URMs.

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Anonymous User
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Re: Diversity Candidate?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 11, 2020 1:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 3:52 am
Asking for a friend. What are the implications of a recruiter pitching you as a "diversity candidate"? Aside from the obvious that you check off either an LGBTQ, Ethnicity, etc. box for diversity purposes. Does this mean you're basically 2nd rate or unqualified otherwise? Does it mean you'd be first to be fired if a firm goes south? Any other considerations?
As others have said, this language is a little unusual coming from a recruiter. To me it sounds like they’re planning to pitch your friend as: “hey, I know this candidate is below the grades/ law school/prior experience you’re typically looking for, but they’re a diversity candidate so you should consider them anyway!” I am not a URM and I am also not in a law firm recruiting department, so I’m hesitant to say how your friend should feel about this possibility or how it might impact their application/career at any eventual job, but I would definitely encourage him or her to make sure the recruiter explains exactly what they mean and what they’re intending to say to firms (and why) before letting the recruiter submit applications anywhere. There are a lot of recruiters out there who are not acting in the best interest of their clients, and there are numerous other recruiters to work with if your friend isn’t comfortable with this one.

(Unintentional anon, will quote below)

snehpets

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Re: Diversity Candidate?

Post by snehpets » Tue Aug 11, 2020 1:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 1:15 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 3:52 am
Asking for a friend. What are the implications of a recruiter pitching you as a "diversity candidate"? Aside from the obvious that you check off either an LGBTQ, Ethnicity, etc. box for diversity purposes. Does this mean you're basically 2nd rate or unqualified otherwise? Does it mean you'd be first to be fired if a firm goes south? Any other considerations?
As others have said, this language is a little unusual coming from a recruiter. To me it sounds like they’re planning to pitch your friend as: “hey, I know this candidate is below the grades/ law school/prior experience you’re typically looking for, but they’re a diversity candidate so you should consider them anyway!” I am not a URM and I am also not in a law firm recruiting department, so I’m hesitant to say how your friend should feel about this possibility or how it might impact their application/career at any eventual job, but I would definitely encourage him or her to make sure the recruiter explains exactly what they mean and what they’re intending to say to firms (and why) before letting the recruiter submit applications anywhere. There are a lot of recruiters out there who are not acting in the best interest of their clients, and there are numerous other recruiters to work with if your friend isn’t comfortable with this one.

(Unintentional anon, will quote below)
This is me, unintentional anon.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Diversity Candidate?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Tue Aug 11, 2020 3:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 1:15 pm
There are a lot of recruiters out there who are not acting in the best interest of their clients, and there are numerous other recruiters to work with if your friend isn’t comfortable with this one.
This. In the present case, the recruiter might be trying to pad their metrics somehow and doesn't have a particular opening in mind (yet).

Anonymous User
Posts: 350768
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Re: Diversity Candidate?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 11, 2020 3:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:18 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 2:14 pm
I am URM associate in biglaw (5+ years). I would disagree with the two posts above me about the up-and-out decisions being as simple as underperformers = those who get pushed out. There's more nuance than that, especially when one's race or ethnicity (etc.) can unconsciously bias people against you. There are many issues at play and different firms handle things in ways more or less conscious of the bias that exists in the system.

But more to the point, the whole question is pretty surprising to me. I used a recruiter a few years ago and have talked to a few others in depth over the course of my career, and I have no idea what it means to be pitched as a "diversity candidate." Frankly, that would set off more alarm bells for me about the recruiter than the firm.
Really appreciate this insight! Do you think being introduced as a "diversity candidate" would worsen that unconscious bias? Without compromising your anonymity, can you provide some things my friend should be aware of or consider?

I've never used a recruiter myself, what would the take away be for my friend when it comes to alarm bells about the recruiter? Do you recommend any specific recruiter or recruiting firm that I can direct my friend to (again without compromising your anonymity)?
URM Senior Associate anon here.

I think being pitched as the "diversity candidate" could possibly worsen bias, in this instance at the screener stage. In my experience recruiters either (1) directly work with partners to pitch candidates or (2) submit through more standard means (online system, general firm recruiting department, etc.). If a partner is pitched a candidate as being heavy on diversity, it might cause them to discount the rest of their resume. Or it might give them a huge boost - can't say for sure - but if the candidate is otherwise qualified for the job, I would be hesitant to go all in on the diversity angle. It is impossible to say for sure without more information, of course.

I don't have any specific advice on recruiters. Any good recruiter would be open to an initial phone call and your friend can feel them out that way. Word of mouth is also always a very good option for finding out who is good in a particular market (and it will vary by market). This website is owned by a recruiting firm (BCG) and I actually think there are some decent articles published by it that provide some background about the recruiting/lateral process. I cannot speak to that firm in particular as recruiters but their website is pretty helpful (not trying to shill here, mods can verify that I way predate the TLS takeover - always consider the author of any article and how any POV they are pushing benefits them, and salt accordingly). Searching old threads on TLS should also provide good information for your friend.

It's hard to say more generally what things your friend would consider. The only advice I have would be reiterating what has been stated upthread, that people tend to gravitate towards those who are similar to them. An associate's survival in a big firm beyond a year or two is predicated on finding a good mentor and sponsor. Often times, but not always, for diverse individuals, that sponsorship comes from other attorneys with similar characteristics. I would be hesitant to join a firm where I was the only [fill in the blank]. Being a trailblazer is hard in general, but even harder in an up-or-out system designed to churn associates.

And as a throwaway thought for any 0Ls reading this, or if your friend is considering a practice group change, it has been my observation that URM (AA/Hispanic) associates tend to last longer and do better in transactional groups than litigation groups. I have no idea why this is or if my anecdotal observations would hold up looking at larger industry data.

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