“People are tired of diversity. There is a sense of diversity fatigue out there,” said Dr. Jeff McKinney on Thursday April 16th in the Barrister’s Club, where he led a collaborative discussion entitled “The Business Case for Diversity: Why we need it, how we achieve it.” Sponsored by the SBA
, and Parents Attending Law School
as part of Diversity Week, the presentation examined the importance of diversity in the legal profession, the struggle to attract and retain diverse attorneys, and how diversity can enhance overall performance.
In introducing Dr. McKinney, Dom del Pino, President of the ATLA, said, “We are very proud to have Dr. McKinney here, and we are very interested in what he has to say.” Following the introduction, Professor McKinney had each table of students and professors in attendance write down and discuss some of their own experiences and thoughts on diversity.
The exercise led into a discussion not only of the value of diversity, but of the different definitions and approaches to the subject. The discussion touched on socio-economic differences as well as cultural ones. Several people noted the difficulty law firms had in attracting diverse associates, and some suggested that associates who did not fit into the traditional mold might feel unwelcome. “Corporations have tackled this issue head on. When women and minorities leave law firms, that where they go. They become in-house counsel,” noted Dr. McKinney in explaining why the experience of an audience member in a corporate legal department could have been so different.
Dr. McKinney graduated from Indiana University, earning a BA and MA in Speech Communication and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration. He spent 12 years teaching at Indiana University, teaching courses on a variety of topics including; cultural awareness, white privilege, GLBT issues, social/class privilege, public speaking, and business communication. As Senior Associate Director of the Project on Academic Success at Indiana University, Dr. McKinney assisted 16 colleges and universities in the State of Indiana in examining enrollment and retention of minority student population. He also helped develop programs to assist schools in recruiting and retaining more students from underrepresented backgrounds.
Currently teaching communication courses at Harold Washington College, Dr. McKinney recently created The Angkor Group, to address the issues of multiculturalism and diversity in law firms, other professional services firms, educational institutions, corporations, and nonprofit organizations.