HP Mandates Quotas

by Roger Clegg

Kim M. Rivera, who is chief legal officer and general counsel of HP Inc., is serious in her insistence that law firms doing work for her company meet the racial, ethnic, and gender quotas she has set for them (she calls it “achieving the metric”). She has sent this letter informing them that the company will withhold up to 10 percent of any amount invoiced by the law firms if they “do not meet or exceed our minimal diverse staffing requirements.”

She helpfully appends a description of the program. It spells out, for example, that the definition of “diverse” attorneys is limited to “race/ethnicity, gender, LGBT status, and disability status” — no use trying to sneak in someone because of his or her religion, impoverished background, or heterodox political views. But the good news is that the “twofer” is alive and well: “An attorney who is both a woman and racially/ethnically diverse” counts double.

In her letter, which bears the frank label “Diversity Mandate to Partner Law Firms,” Ms. Rivera says, “I believe we can all do better” and that she is “counting on your courage and vision” to support HP’s diktat.

Well, of course, it takes no “courage” to be politically correct in corporate America, especially when a client is making it worth your while, moneywise.

Courage would be telling Ms. Rivera that, since law firms really ought to follow the law, this law firm won’t be violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. section 1981 by engaging in workplace discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, and sex (see here and here, appendix B). Courage would be adding that, even if it weren’t illegal, this law firm thinks it is wrong to treat its lawyers differently because of their skin color or what country their ancestors came from or what kind of reproductive organs they have.

Courage would be telling Ms. Rivera to go to hell, and suing her to boot. But I’m not holding my breath.

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