THE LCLD FELLOWS got a taste of history-in-the-making during a Learning Experience at the U.S. Department of Justice on April 27, 2015. That was the day that Loretta Lynch was sworn in as U.S. Attorney General, thereby becoming the first African-American woman, the second African American, and the second woman to hold that office.

The Fellows were welcomed to the Department by Jason Cox, Chief of Staff to Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery. Cox noted that many of Lynch’s predecessors, including General Eric H. Holder, Jr., had dedicated themselves to creating a workforce “whose backgrounds reflect our nation’s rich diversity” by promoting “sound, smart diversity management strategies” that are embedded in the Department’s DNA. He also noted that the Department’s diversity and inclusion efforts are Department-wide and focus on all employees.

“On a fundamental basis,” Cox concluded, “we, at the Department of Justice, are aware that we cannot succeed at our mission as a Department without consistently employing diversity and inclusion principles -- a mission that calls on each of our employees to, and I quote, ‘ensure [the] full and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.’"

These points were then expanded upon by a diverse panel of DOJ employees, including several senior-level attorneys, during a discussion entitled “Leading From Where You Stand.” The panelists discussed their careers at Justice, the mentors who had helped them along the way, and what they look for in the next generation of leaders coming behind them.

The Department of Justice dedication ceremony October 25, 1934, on the steps where the photo of the LCLD Fellows, above, was made. In the front row, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Courtesy U.S. Department of Justice)

A second session, entitled “DOJ 101,” gave panelists a chance to describe the myriad ways in which DOJ employees and components interact, ranging from law enforcement and civil investigations to community relations and grant-making functions. The Fellows were able to further explore these topics during a brown-bag lunch with representatives from various DOJ components.

“What a fascinating day,” said 2015 Fellow Parag Shah, Associate Vice President of Nationwide Insurance, who relished the coincidence visiting the Department of Justice on the same day as an historic milestone.

Shah indicated that a highlight for him was an afternoon session in which approximately one-half of the participating Fellows got a taste of DOJ’s groundbreaking Diversity and Inclusion Dialogue Program (DIDP). The DIDP allows employees to engage in activities and dialogue that are designed to increase understanding of the benefits and challenges of a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace, which often includes colleagues from vastly differing backgrounds and professional environments.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden administers the oath of office to Loretta Lynch, who became the 83rd Attorney General of the United States on April 27, 2015. (Reuters)

The DIDP session was one of two afternoon break-out sessions to highlight the Department’s diversity and inclusion efforts. The second group of Fellows attended a session on “microbehaviors.”

The session’s trainer noted that on a “micro” level, a supervisor’s non-verbal daily interactions with her/his employees have a huge impact on diversity and inclusion efforts and can actually derail progress. He cited research showing that words are not nearly as powerful as microbehaviors, such as tone, choice of words, eye contact, and other non-verbal actions. These subtle, often subconscious, signals can demonstrate inclusion or exclusion and they can have a major effect on employee productivity, retention, and morale. During the session, the Fellows learned to understand microbehaviors and detect and change their actions as necessary to maximize fairness and productivity in their workplaces.

“I wasn't sure what to expect going into the program, but came away very impressed,” wrote another Fellow. “I applaud the DOJ for its work and commitment.”

LCLD wishes to thank Richard Parker, Deputy Associate Attorney General for Diversity Management, for organizing this unique Learning Experience.

For more information about the Fellows Program, or to host the Fellows for a future Learning Experience or Leadership Lunch, contact Nichole Velasquez, Fellows Program Manager.

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