It is imperative to note that only focusing on diversity, without equal attention on inclusion, will fail every single time. Law firms have been focused on improving diversity statistics for decades yet continue to have serious issues related to firm morale and culture, leading to high turnover and little true diversity or inclusion. An inclusive firm works to create an environment that allows individuals to be their authentic selves and engages, enables and empowers employees to do their best work.
Our goal for the legal industry is for the makeup of our firms (lawyers, support staff and administrators) to be representative of the communities we serve. Simple, right? Yet we continue to fall unacceptably short of this goal and have a long road of work ahead of us. But this is where ALA’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) Committee can help! Our committee’s purpose is to serve as inclusion and diversity advocates for the advancement and expansion of underrepresented groups in the Association and in the legal community at large.
So, ICYMI, the DEIA Committee can help you, your firm and your chapter evolve in the D&I space in three areas.
One of the biggest advantages of ALA membership is your access to chapter and law firm presentations and programs. The presentations are free of charge. However, when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and travel is permitted again, we ask that reasonable associated travel costs be reimbursed. (There is no cost for virtual presentations.) Committee members are available to present educational content covering a variety of topics including:
- Creating a Culturally Competent Law Firm
- 25 D&I Tips
- All Inclusive: How Chapters Can Create a Welcoming Environment
- Bullies in the Workplace (will be available soon!)
In response to the social uprising that our county has experienced since George Floyd’s killing in May 2020, we have been hosting roundtable discussions along with a short presentation on racism in America. Our presentations are continuously updated to include the most relevant issues in the legal D&I space.
PRESIDENTS’ AWARD OF EXCELLENCE AND BENCHMARKING GUIDE
By now, chapters participating in the 2021 Presidents’ Award of Excellence have noticed the award criteria now includes more than a dozen D&I benchmarks. The criteria were repurposed from the former ALA Diversity Scorecard for chapters. While the criteria are currently optional, we hope they become required achievements for chapters in 2021 and beyond. Examples of the criteria include:
- The chapter follows our committee on social media.
- The chapter hosts a DEIA Committee presentation for its members.
- The chapter has a formal D&I officer on its Board of Directors.
Many of you have inquired about the law firm scorecard, which was removed as an available resource in late 2019. Our committee has spent extensive time repurposing and restructuring it into the soon-to-be-released Law Firm D&I Benchmarking Guide. This benchmarking guide will help firms of all sizes navigate successful D&I initiatives, whether they have 3 or 3,000 lawyers. It also provides the right metric tracking for firms distributed throughout the spectrum — from those with no established D&I programs to those that have already made a lot of headway in this space. Members can expect this guide to be rolled out by the end of 2020.
If you haven’t had a chance to follow us on social media — Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook — we encourage you to find us @ALADiversity! As you know, there is so much content out there right now and it’s hard to sift through all of it. We have a dedicated team responsible for cultivating the information that is meaningful and relevant to law firm administrators.
In June 2020, we launched our first-ever monthly social media challenge, #ALABiasBusters. There are various ways to participate, and our next challenge starts Monday, November 30, so be sure to follow us on social media to join in on the fun and win some awesome prizes. A huge thank you is warranted to all the chapters that have committed to donating prizes.
Lastly, while each of the nine members of our committee works tirelessly to make strides in D&I, in order for us to succeed, we need the involvement of every ALA member and business partner. We encourage you to be part of this conversation. If you have any questions or would like additional information on how we can be of service to you, please feel free to email our committee at [email protected].