Tackling 'the thin file' that can prevent a promotion

    By: Clair Fuller on Oct 10, 2017

    Iris Bohnet writes, "Recently, I have worked with a number of professional service firms committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. Many offer diversity training and leadership development programs, and many support affinity groups for traditionally underrepresented groups.

    However, none has been able to crack what sometimes feels like a code set in stone: signficantly increased diversity at the entry level, but very little change at the top.

    This divide is particularly salient in law firms. At many law schools, more women than men graduate, leading to an increase in the proportion of female lawyers in the United States from about 3 percent in 1970 to almost 40 percent today. Similarly, about one-third of law school graduates are minorities, but fewer than 10 percent of equity partners are nonwhite and fewer than 20 percent are female. These numbers have been fairly stable for a while and have even backtracked in some instances.


    We will also need to tackle something called the 'thin file,' a term I came across only recently. While explaining to me why a person was not promoted to partner, promotion committee members repeatedly said that a candidate simply didn't have what it takes, based on a file summarizing his or her work over the past eight years.

    The candidate had not been on enough, if any, important deals, and, making matters worse, had received little feedback over the years. Associates with these 'thin files' tended to be minorities and women."


    Released: October 10, 2017, 8:45 am
    Keywords: NAWL News

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