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. We asked Ben Wilson, LCLD Board Member and Chair of Beveridge & Diamond PC, what three things legal leaders can do today to ensure that their diversity and inclusion objectives continue to grow and thrive.
1. Go beyond connectivity—ensure connection.
Direct senior staff, if they have not already done so, to audit firm or company technology and communication platforms to ensure all employees have access to, and receive, information. All other priorities and initiatives will fall flat if the organization cannot ensure that it can effectively connect and communicate with its people. Think about how communication methods have changed from “in person/in office” norms.
Once you have covered basic connectivity/communication issues, put in place regular virtual check-ins at both large (companywide) and small (office, practice area, department, etc.) scales. The goal is to help everyone feel included and valued.
2. Revisit D&I workloads, projects, and priorities.
While it may be disruptive in many respects, any reset or shift in business priorities that your organization faces (whether business is up or down) provides an ideal opportunity to take stock of your talent and rebalance with D&I priorities in mind. Make it known that you welcome any and all ideas for how best to get work done, and that you encourage people to step outside of their historic roles in adapting to new times.
With respect to external D&I initiatives that may face budget cuts, think about ways to continue supporting an organization (and the people who participate in it) at a lower spend level—whether through in-kind contributions or offers to host virtual meetings or roundtable conversations in lieu of larger, sponsored events.
3. Get creative in showcasing existing diverse talent.
Insist diversity remains a priority on work assignments and that diverse attorneys and staff are not the first to be fired. When you lead a virtual call, select the display option that has everyone’s image shown, or scroll through the participants and call on diverse team members who may be able to contribute to the conversation. Encourage your leadership team to do so as well. Consider ways to ensure diverse team members lead discussions or present accomplishments.
See below for more ideas from LCLD Members.