Wal-Mart's push for diversity | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Wal-Mart's push for diversity

Posted By on Sat, Jul 22, 2006 at 8:38 AM

I meant to post this yesterday. It's still worth a look. It's about corporate pressure on law firms to be more diverse in hiring and it's one more indication of the positive influence former State Police Director Tom Mars has had in his role as general counsel at Wal-Mart. He may not be solely responsible (and lawsuit pressure may be responsible for some change), but in addition to pressure for diversity, Wal-Mart is settling more lawsuits, prosecuting fewer shoplifters and generally behaving less in a give-no-quarter fashion. I remember Mars for working out some solutions to Governor's Mansion records access when Gov. Huckabee bowed up over the issue. It's a pleasant contrast to the current disdain for public access  in the governor's office today. From the NY Times article:

Wal-Mart Stores has dropped two law firms — pulling active work from them — because of unhappiness with the firms’ lack of diversity.

“Both of those firms were performing well, exceeding expectations, in the category of performance and in the category of cost,” said Thomas Mars, Wal-Mart’s general counsel. Wal-Mart has also decided not to send any additional work to several other firms.

Companies that have sought to present a face that reflects the diversity of their customers are keen not to have their lawyers undermine that public image. And companies that have faced racial and sex discrimination lawsuits — as has Wal-Mart, which is fighting a huge sex discrimination class action — are particularly sensitive to their law firms’ diversity. (Mr. Mars says that Wal-Mart’s efforts with its law firms have nothing to do with the litigation against the company.)


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