In the wake of major social and racial change, many organizations are making a concerted effort to promote diversity, inclusiveness, and equality in the workplace. These efforts are commendable, but more action is needed. For the legal profession to become more diverse, and truly inclusive of different opinions, perspectives, and experiences, organizations must take affirmative steps to help eliminate implicit organizational biases.
Bias can be defined as predispositions of a psychological, sociological, or physiological nature that can influence decision-making. Organizational bias in the legal setting occurs when a firm’s culture, leadership, or organization influences factors such as the recruitment and promotion of lawyers, the staffing of engagements and the development of professionals, and performance reviews. Organizational biases can lead to discriminatory behavior and intentionally or unintentionally reinforce barriers to opportunity. Organizational bias can be eliminated in various ways, including through training; goals; recruitment and hiring, both in new candidates and among hiring managers; retention of diverse team members; making managers and employees accountable; and encouraging individuals to voice concerns about biases. For attorneys and other tax professionals, pro bono service is another ideal vehicle to help foster a culture of diversity, inclusiveness, and equality.
This article first surveys how pro bono service promotes diversity, inclusiveness, and equality on a personal and organizational level. Then, it examines other benefits of pro bono service. Finally, it highlights various pro bono opportunities in the tax field.