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Ruth V. FryWhat does Diversity & Inclusion
and the World Cup Have in Common?

You might be thinking what does World Cup Soccer have to do with being culturally diverse in business. The World Cup is the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding the Olympics. Does the world truly love soccer?  Or is it about 32 diverse teams from different countries coming together for one goal – the World Cup Trophy? In business, there is no trophy, but there are certainly “mini” wins such as moving the diversity ball forward. For some of our firms, it is quite an initiative to “tackle.” Small to medium firms may have to “dribble” the diversity ball forward a bit slower than perhaps some of the larger firms. Moving the diversity and inclusion ball forward does not happen overnight; it takes time, collaboration and buy-in from leadership. The World Cup teams are no different than your firm personnel. The World Cup teams consist of 15 to 20 players from various countries with different skill sets. Personnel from your firm are also from various cultures and backgrounds and bring different skills to the table.  Your firm should not be called “off sides” for not moving its diversity and inclusion initiatives forward. Don’t be a spectator — get in the game — the diversity and inclusion game, that is. Your “fans” (your staff and attorneys) will appreciate your efforts and teamwork. 

ALA’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion consists of nine members throughout the country who have a passion for this subject. While we are not experts, we are here to assist you and your firm with its diversity and inclusion efforts.  Whether it means just getting started or selecting a diversity and inclusion speaker for your Chapter or law firm. Be sure to visit our resources page at www.alanet.org/diversity under “Diversity Initiatives.” There you will find many resources such as tip sheets regarding monthly heritage celebrations, a diversity toolkit, a mentoring guide and, brand new this year, a diversity and inclusion speaker list.

The latest resource provided to ALA Members is the Scorecard for Change. If you have questions or need an “assist” after reviewing the Scorecard for Change for Chapter Leaders or Law Firms, simply reach out to any one of nine Committee members on ALA’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee by email or phone.

What exactly is a Scorecard? It was designed to be a useful tool for our members to increase awareness of and sensitivity to the differences among our workforce and to advance the concepts of inclusiveness and acceptance. There are two Scorecards: the Diversity and Inclusion Scorecard - Roadmap to Change for ALA Chapters and the Law Firm Scorecard. The Chapter Scorecard is finished and has many useful hyperlinks to documents, policies and examples. The Law Firm Scorecard is 80% complete; however, we will be finalizing the hyperlinks during the month of July 2014. Keep an eye out for our announcement when it is 100% complete.

What has ALA’s Committee on Diversity been doing? In addition to finalizing the Scorecard hyperlinks we have been working on presentations for some of the chapters across the U.S.  While we are not experts in diversity and inclusion, we are a resource for you and would like the opportunity to visit your Chapter to present our “60 Tips in 75 Minutes” presentation on diversity and inclusion, and explain why your Chapter would want to be more inclusive.

During the 2014 Annual Conference in Toronto, ALA’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion presented “Part II - Okay, We All Have Unconscious Biases - What Next?” Session II was a workshop where Committee members talked about specific examples of unconscious bias.  After a brief discussion, several other examples of unconscious bias were distributed to the over 125 attendees in break out sessions in order to problem solve. After about 15 minutes of discussion, we took turns sharing the group feedback and discussed ways to have “a teaching moment” when these biases surface back at our firms. 

This interactive session followed renowned speaker and American anti-racism activist and writer, Tim Wise. Mr. Wise’s presentation was entitled “Unconscious Bias & Our Ability to Lead.” He not only spoke about the impact that unconscious bias has on each of our ability to lead, but more importantly what is required of present and future leaders during a time of change. Wise reviewed the cost of these biases on individual and organizational success and shared concrete examples of how to address one’s own biases, biases with people in our organizations, and overall organizational biases. It is important that all of us develop ways to manage and lead in a time when all of us are influenced by unconscious biases. 

In 2014, there is much, much more work to be done. Why do we believe there is more work to be done?  During the Toronto Conference a member asked one of the Committee members what diversity and inclusion is. This further reminds us that our work is far from done. As we have learned, diversity and inclusion is not just about race or gender; diversity and inclusion encompasses many additional facets such as cultural beliefs, education, entitlement, etc. 

I ask each and every member to do at least this one thing today: question your assumptions.  Expand your own comfort zone in both your professional and social circles.

Thank you for taking the time to read this important update. We invite your suggestions as well as any comments you may have about how we are doing as an Association in the area of diversity and inclusion. We want to know what you need and what challenges you face both within your Chapter and within the workplace. To submit a comment, please email diversity@alanet.org.

Sincerely,

Ruth V. Fry
2014-2015 Chair, ALA Committee on Diversity and Inclusion
Saul Ewing LLP

 
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