Perry Zizzi, Dentons: Companies should become aware of the real potential for growth and innovation stemming from a balanced representation of genders, backgrounds and generations

In today’s post, Perry Zizzi, managing partner at Dentons, talks about what actions the company has been taking in diversity management.

Why and since when does your company believe and invest in diversity management?

Dentons is a polycentric firm with no single headquarters. We are diverse in terms of geography, language, culture and nationalities, with over 15,000 people in more than 75 countries and 170 offices. Diversity and inclusion are at our core and are driving principles behind Dentons’ vision to sustaining a rich and vibrant workplace.

What aspects of diversity management have the highest priority in your company?

We have four main priorities on our diversity and inclusion agenda, starting with our focus to increase communication and discussion around all aspects of diversity and inclusion within the Firm and seeking ways to embed behaviors and approaches to ensure an inclusive culture across the Firm. We are also exploring opportunities to partner with clients to develop ways to significantly impact diversity – there is power in numbers – and last, but not least, demonstrating our commitment to diversity and inclusion in order to attract and retain the best talent.

Which D&I activities have been implemented in your organization so far?

We rely on a formal diversity program led by a committee made up of Firm leadership, lawyers and professionals and, I am happy to say, an impressive range of workplace programs and policies to support diversity such as the Women’s Advancement Committee, programs and policies for new parents, minorities and LGBT+ professionals. Our HR managers in Europe receive training on diversity and inclusion, facilitated by leading experts in equality, diversity and inclusion.

We also rely on local and individual actions and colleagues across Europe volunteered to be ambassadors to promote diversity and inclusion and share the reasons behind their passions. Another occasion to highlight different aspects of inclusion and its importance across our Firm is our yearly Global Inclusion Day, where we host a series of linked discussions.

Many companies aren't prioritizing inclusion and diversity initiatives right now. Why should they reconsider?

It’s a sign of maturity. Talent is a very important asset and a more inclusive workforce attracts the highest quality talent. Companies should become aware of the real potential for growth and innovation stemming from this variety of perspectives and a balanced representation of genders, backgrounds and generations.
Diversity broadens perspectives, offers ideas that are more creative, a deeper understanding and ultimately a higher-quality product.

In your opinion, what tangible benefits does diversity bring to your company?

I see benefits on more than one levels. On the one hand, by attracting and supporting people from all backgrounds, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical abilities and other characteristics, our Firm creates a dynamic and inclusive work environment that contributes to our success and is key to accelerating our innovation agenda and differentiating Dentons. On the other hand, employees will feel more satisfied with their workplace, more engaged and motivated to give their best, and therefore allowing us to serve our clients better.

Can you name three diversity challenges that companies have to pay attention to?

For the people in our Firm, diversity is a part of our identity, a core value, a mindset. It is possible that companies out there are treating diversity as a theoretical concept, taking it for granted and failing to identify systemic blockages in the organization or helping their employees tackle individual barriers, which are harder to spot. Other companies may face challenges due to the specificities of the industry and therefore have to work harder to attain more diversity.

What do you do to convince your colleagues to see the value in diversity management, or even more to truly get them on board?

We are a team, we share the same values and we depend on each other. No convincing has to take place to understand the important place diversity management occupies in our global Firm. We not only support diversity, but as we work together across continents, we celebrate it every day.

Perry V. Zizzi is Romania managing partner at Dentons and has over two decades of experience practicing law in the emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.