In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor, and the protests that followed, business leaders across the country are more focused than ever on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In a recent podcast for the Legal Marketing Association, Julie Holton, Founder and Principal Strategist of mConnexions, interviewed Gia Altreche, Director of Business Development and Marketing at Newmeyer Dillion, and Dr. Laura Quiros, Trauma-Informed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant at Coston Consulting.
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been modern-day buzzwords that now are changing law firm practices,” said Julie Holton.
So how can firms build a framework that supports (DEI) in a lasting and meaningful way?
It’s not simply about offering a seat at the table, it requires turning conversations into action to ensure that all people are given the supportive environment and tools to thrive in the workplace.
There needs to be an important shift, said Gia, from simply hiring for diversity to actually creating a culture where diverse people thrive. Organizations need to truly understand the experiences and perceptions of people from many cultures.
“Let’s focus on the space where we are including everyone – including the white males,’’ Gia said. “Everyone has a seat at the table and we’re being very thoughtful around how we set the table, so every chair is positioned appropriately.’’
As law firms look to diversify and grow, leaders need to also build a strategy around inclusivity, which in turn leads to more equity for all.
“I think of diversity, equity, and inclusion — and particularly equity — as not as having to convince somebody to hire diverse bodies but really thinking about how we can redistribute our power to have more diverse bodies at the table,’’ Laura said. “And not only at the table, but inclusion and equity really speak to advancement and retention.”
The redistribution of power forces people to stop and think about how open they are, both personally and professionally, to share some of their privileges, she said.
Every person plays a role in building a diverse and equitable environment by encouraging accountability in individuals and the firm. Accountability should not be viewed as a negative and an important part of any culture. This concept that Laura calls empathetic accountability allows for honest conversations and encourages real listening.
“Accountability is a gift,’’ Julie said in response. “Imagine all of us sitting in a board room with law firm leadership and we felt like we were giving a gift by raising our hand and speaking up. That’s a huge transformation.”
To learn more about how you can help your organization prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion, listen to this important podcast in its entirety: https://blog.legalmarketing.org/podcast-episode-64
The podcast is a follow-up to the September/October issue of Strategies Magazine, co-edited by Julie Holton. The issue focused on advocacy for self, career, and the entire legal marketing community. LMA members can read the September/October issue of Strategies Magazine on advocacy here: https://www.legalmarketing.org/page/strategies