Archive for February 26th, 2010

Diversity and Diverse Admit Day at Northwestern

Years ago, when organizations were more dependent on hierarchy and tradition, the good leaders were those who made decisions and demanded that employees follow those decisions. But leading today requires something more. It requires something subtler than the command-and-control style that worked in the past.  Instead, modern leaders need to focus on the collective interests of their colleagues.

Embodied in that collective interest is the idea of diversity.  Today’s leaders are faced with teams that are becoming more and more diverse. Organizations today are geared a more global culture, and incentives demand innovation without regard for geography or background. Many schools and companies have begun accounting for this trend, recognizing the importance of diverse teams and collaboration, but most still have a long way to go.

Here are Northwestern Law diversity is very important. Not only does Northwestern have one of the most geographically diverse student bodies amongst law schools, but it also has “the highest percentage of racially and ethnically diverse students among top law schools and the JD class is split equally between men and women.”

One reflection of the importance Northwestern places on diversity is Diverse Admit Day. Diverse Admit Day is a two-day event for all admitted diverse students to come check out Northwestern Law. The prospective students attending are usually choosing between Northwestern and other top law schools.  This year I happen to know a couple of admits who will be attending. One is a friend from high school in Arizona. He’ll be enrolling in the Accelerated JD (AJD) program.  I met another gentleman from California who said he’s be here this weekend. And finally, I’ve traded a few emails with a fellow MLT alum who was admitted into the JD-MBA program here. He found me on my website and I’ll be chatting with him about the program.

I’m glad Northwestern recognizes how important diversity is to America’s long-term success. It’s now time for other schools and for more business and law firms to do the same.  In one recent example, Apple — arguably America’s premier company today — is leading that trend, and it recently decided to diversify its Board by naming a woman as its new Lead Director (Click to read). It will be interesting to what other companies will hop on the bandwagon and do the same.

Chicago law firms like Vedder Price, Kirkland & Ellis and Perkins Coie also have a diversity programs in place for students. And banks like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have the same.  I’m a really big fan of the diversity programs, as I think they’re a great ‘first step toward creating more diverse organizations and industries.  And just as important, it’s also a way for companies to display it core values as they head into the new decade.

That’s because the best leaders and best companies understand that values are important. These are leaders who understand that long-term results are more important than short term profits and so they steer organizations to think critically about their values before making any business decisions. And in the end, these are the companies that will lead. And not only will they change the industries but they will also change the world.

Friday, February 26th, 2010 Admissions, Diversity, Law School 5 Comments

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.

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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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