In times of uncertainty and economic upheaval, diversity and inclusion programs are often the first to be cut—which means the diverse attorneys they support can be impacted in negative ways. LCLD asked the following LCLD Members what legal leaders can do today to ensure that their diversity and inclusion initiatives—and diverse talent—continue to grow and thrive.
1. Check in with your diverse attorneys.
Take time to ask them, personally, about what they're thinking and feeling right now. Their experiences of both the pandemic and racism will be different than their majority peers—ask them what your organization can do to support them.
2. Maintain communication.
Embed inclusion principles in firm-wide communications. Direct senior staff to audit technology and communications platforms to ensure that all employees have access to, and receive, information. Pay close attention to how communication norms are different when working remotely as compared to in person.
3. Create new leadership opportunities.
Make it known that you welcome any and all ideas for how best to get work done, and encourage people to step outside their historic roles in adapting to new times.
4. Support diverse talent by providing relevant resources.
Host panels to explore and discuss the unique impacts of COVID-related environments. Hold virtual “town hall” meetings to address issues that are top-of-mind for your employees. Remember that different socioeconomic groups are experiencing the pandemic differently.
5. Showcase diverse talent.
When you lead a video call, make sure that you adjust settings so that you can see everyone’s face (and encourage participants to do the same). Call out diverse team members who may be able to contribute to the conversation but may have difficulty jumping in, and encourage your leadership team to do the same. Continue to seek opportunities for diverse team members to lead discussions and present their accomplishments. Ensure the full participation of diverse associates in problem solving.
6. Continue to articulate the business value of diversity.
Remember that D&I will bring long-term value to business. Now more than ever, our organizations need the best and most creative thinking—and that’s what talented, diverse teams bring.
7. Ensure talent management processes are working.
Everyone needs equitable access to work and professional development resources. If processes have changed with the shift to remote work, make sure bias interrupters remain in place.
8. Look for cost-effective alternatives.
While external D&I initiatives may face budget cuts, there are many ways you can support at a lower level; options include in-kind contributions, or hosting virtual meetings as opposed to in-person events.
9. Capitalize on the new opportunities a virtual environment provides.
Video conferencing and other technologies provide many ways to keep people connected; for example, you can connect employees from different geographic areas, or provide a platform for needed conversations that might not come up in normal office exchanges. Create regular virtual check-ins that have business and social components.
10. Use pro bono.
While law firms work to ensure an even allocation of client matters, pro bono projects provide another important avenue for training, and can help strengthen relationships and provide a deep sense of satisfaction for those involved.
Click below to see the full responses from Members.