Diversity and the chief litigator

Those who revel in the Court's retreat from the concept of legally mandated affirmative action may find that their victory is entirely pyrrhic

As I write this, the Supreme Court, in the Michigan affirmative action case, has just banged another nail into the coffin of the traditional concept of diversity, a concept with deep American historical roots built around long-established ideas of ethnic, racial and gender identity. Whether one thinks this is a good idea, as I have argued elsewhere, it has long been inevitable. The idea of ethnic, racial and gender preferences has grown increasingly unpalatable to large segments of the American population. I predict we will see a continuing retreat from the traditional idea of diversity in the coming years in many aspects of our society.

Ironically, those of us who practice law in the great multinational corporations of today know that perhaps nowhere else is the commitment to the idea of diversity more firmly rooted than in the corporate world. This is not because of ideology, or altruism, or political correctness, but rather because of the recognition that diversity is an essential characteristic of life in the “flat earth” of modern global business. It is absurd to imagine a successful global corporation that is not attuned to the rich and textured fabric of human life, with its subtle differences and profound commonalities.

PD Villarreal

PD Villarreal is senior vice preisdent of global litigation at GlaxoSmithKline.

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