Microsoft has introduced a financial bonus scheme to reward its panel of law firms in the United States that champion diversity in the workplace.
Under the new scheme, 17 of Microsoft’s US-based law firms are eligible for a 2% quarterly or annual bonus on top of their legal fees. The bonus will be awarded to those firms that achieve high levels of diversity in the workplace, such as the employment of different ethnic groups and female attorneys.
Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith said: “We believe that diversity in our legal teams is a business necessity. We cannot be effective if we cannot understand and appreciate the interests and needs of the incredibly diverse individuals who make up our stakeholder groups.”
Microsoft does not currently plan to role out the the bonus scheme to law firms in any other countries. However, Sue Ashtiany, employment partner at law firm Nabarro, said that it is important to improve the way diversity is tackled in the UK. “The fact that major global corporates, such as Microsoft, are pushing for measurable change and prepared to pay for it is an intriguing development and indicative of the commercial strength of the equality message. What matters ultimately is genuine equality of opportunity. Within the UK, it is important to ensure that diversity strategies are both lawful and effective.”