The national trend in cultivating a diverse workforce tends to focus on enriching corporate culture, staying in line with equal-opportunity regulations and attracting talented professionals.
Some companies with Rhode Island offices, including a law firm and a national defense-systems innovator, have also found diversity to be a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining business.
“There was definitely a business push. Some of our clients were interested in making sure their vendors and service providers reflected diversity, not just by sending a diverse team to make a pitch, but in a diverse set of individuals working with the companies,” said Kendal Tyre, a partner in the law firm of Nixon Peabody and co-chair of its national diversity action committee.
“We have several-dozen clients that have electronic billing and they track the diversity of the firms servicing them,” Tyre said. Those service providers may include women, Asians, African-Americans and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, he said.
“Companies are using their economic leverage to ensure equal opportunity is provided for folks throughout the professions,” Tyre said.
Nixon Peabody, which has offices in Providence, Boston and other U.S. cities, as well as in Europe and Asia, received a 100 percent rating for its diverse workforce from the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. This is the seventh year in a row Nixon Peabody was among companies earning a perfect rating on the group’s Corporate Equality Index.
The index is based on such factors as the company prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, offering partners medical insurance and resource groups for employees.