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Global drinks business Coca-Cola has become the latest company to threaten to withhold fees from law firms that fail to meet minimum diversity requirements.
In a letter from senior vice-president and global general counsel Bradley M. Gayton, the company stated the profession was not treating diversity and inclusion as a business imperative, and outlined revised outside counsel diversity guidelines.
For each new matter, at least 30% of each of the billed associate and partner time must be from ‘diverse attorneys’, and at least half of that must be from black attorneys. Failure to meet the commitment over two quarterly reviews will result in a non-refundable 30% reduction in the fees payable for such new matters going forward until the commitment is met.
“We will no longer celebrate good intentions of highly unproductive efforts that haven’t and aren’t likely to produce better diverse staffing. Quite simply, we are no longer interested in discussing motivations, programs, or excuses for little to no progress – it’s the results that we are demanding and will measure going forward.”
The letter also added that while the initiative will begin in the US, it will look to roll them out across the wider organisation: “While the above actions focus on the United States for now, we intend for these initiatives to be customised and applied through our global organisation.”