(January 20, 2021) – Littler, the world’s largest employment and labor law practice representing management, has named shareholder Paul Bateman the firm’s first Chief Inclusion, Equity & Diversity Officer. The appointment of Bateman, who has served in a variety of leadership roles since joining the firm more than two decades ago, is one of the first actions taken by Erin Webber as Littler’s new managing director.
“I consider Paul to be both a friend and a mentor, and he is the perfect choice to further Littler’s strong emphasis on our culture of inclusivity and the diversity of our team,” said Webber, who moved into the role of Littler’s managing director and president on January 15. “Even the most forward-thinking organizations must constantly advance in their commitment to inclusion, equity and diversity, and making this role a C-suite position is consistent with our focus on these values being part of every decision we make as a firm.”
In his new position, Bateman will be responsible for the strategic direction of the firm’s inclusion, equity and diversity programs and initiatives. That includes the recently unveiled Breaking Through: Littler’s D&I Comp Initiative, which aims to double the number of attorneys of color, women and LGBTQ+ shareholders in the top quartile of the firm’s compensation system within five years.
Bateman will report directly to Webber and will also work with Littler’s management committee, office managing shareholders, practice group leadership, affinity groups, committees, corporate staff and administrative professionals. In collaboration with the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, which is comprised of more than 20 lawyers and professional staff, Bateman will advance the firm’s inclusion and equity strategy and its focus on recruiting, developing, retaining and promoting diverse talent at all levels.
“Littler has long been a market leader in the area of inclusivity, equity and diversity and I’m honored to partner with the many passionate individuals across our firm to further these efforts,” Bateman said. “As the firm has grown to more than 1,600 attorneys around the world, operationalizing our efforts is a natural and important next step to ensure proper coordination and that we continue to foster a culture of empowerment where people of all backgrounds belong, grow and succeed.”
Bateman joined Littler in 2000 and served as a member of the firm’s Management Committee from 2006 to 2014. He has been an active member of Littler’s Diversity & Inclusion Council since it was formed in 2003 and hosted the firm’s first meeting for Bollo, an affinity group for Black/African American attorneys. Bateman also has been active with the United Way and has served on the board of the Coordinated Advice & Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS) , a not-for-profit agency that provides those in need with legal advice in the areas of employment, housing, family and health.
With Webber’s appointment and Kate Mrkonich Wilson’s re-election on January 15 as Chair of the Board of Directors, Littler’s top two leadership positions are now held by women. In addition, diverse members – attorneys that identify as women, of color and/or LGBTQ – comprise 67% of Littler’s board and more than half of the management committee. Of the 26 attorneys elevated to shareholder and principal status in 2021, nearly 50% identify as of color and more than 60% identify as women.
In addition to Breaking Through, Littler’s dedication to inclusion, equity and diversity is evident in several key initiatives and programs, including:
- Unconscious Bias Training: Littler is currently completing a two-year long initiative to provide training to every lawyer and corporate management professional in the firm.
- Social Justice Initiatives: As part of its commitment to helping fight the racial inequalities that continue to plague the country, Littler has developed a series of initiatives. This includes programing on being an ally to marginalized groups, piloting a program to ensure that diverse attorneys are being considered for lead roles on new client matters, a new internship program focused on building a pipeline of Black attorneys and a volunteerism program, among other initiatives.
- Career Advocacy Program (CAP): The award-winning program pairs high-performing diverse associates with some of the firm’s most influential leaders and with general counsel of the firm’s current and former clients to help them develop the skills and visibility needed to progress in their careers.
- Investment for Success Program: This program matches recently hired associates with diverse backgrounds with a shareholder and an associate participating in CAP to serve as a mentor and help ensure they are effectively integrated into the firm.
In addition to Bollo, the firm’s affinity groups – which provide diverse attorneys with another platform to expand and develop professionally – include ‘Ohana (Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern, North African and Pacific Islander), Pride (LGBTQ) and Reunión (Hispanic/Latinx). Further, Littler’s Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) provides growth and development opportunities for those Littler attorneys who identify as female and/or nonbinary and empowers them to reach their desired professional goals.
Littler’s efforts have garnered a number of notable awards and recognitions, including from such well-regarded organizations and publications as The American Lawyer, California Minority Counsel Program, Diversity Lab, Human Rights Campaign, Law360, Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Vault, Women in Law Empowerment Forum, Working Mother magazine and Yale Law Women.
For more information on Littler’s efforts, please read the firm’s 2020 Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Annual Report here.
With more than 1,600 labor and employment attorneys in offices around the world, Littler provides workplace solutions that are local, everywhere. Our diverse global team and proprietary technology foster a culture that celebrates original thinking, delivering groundbreaking innovation that prepares employers for what’s happening today, and what’s likely to happen tomorrow.