Message from the Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair
Jenniffer A. Brown
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines diversity as: “the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.” In the human race, these differences are influenced by a variety of external factors and can manifest in visible or invisible ways. Differences can create fear and misunderstanding. Fear is a powerful force that prevents one human being from connecting to another. It is these emotions and reactions that fuel our implicit biases and give rise to exclusion.
Webster defines inclusion as “the act of including: the state of being included”
To emphasize the meaning of inclusion, I will quote renowned diversity speaker, Vernā Myers: “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Law firms are finally beginning to understand the power of diverse teams, particularly as it relates to productivity and the bottom line. However, we still have a long way to go to ensure that everyone is being asked to dance to the inclusion tune. With this in mind, ALA’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion has been busy creating educational tools and best practices materials, updating the diversity webpages and seeking ways to help the legal community become more inclusive.
I am highly honored to be chairing ALA’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion this year, and feel privileged to be given the task of leading this group of talented and energetic ALA volunteers, who are passionate about equality and opportunities for all people. It is said that an employee who feels included, engaged and respected, will be your most profitable employee. Our committee’s best practices resources include the ALA Diversity & Inclusion Scorecard - A Roadmap to Change for ALA Chapter Leaders and the Scorecard for Law Office Administrators, as your guide to acquiring and retaining these profitable employees.
Since 2015, the committee has been taking our successful Diversity 60 Tips in 75 Minutes to over thirty chapters around the country. 60 Tips has recently won an IDEA Award. Chapters have been using 60 Tips as a foundation for their diversity events, beginning their programs with our presentation and following up with select topics for a full day of diversity education. I am very proud to mention that our Diversity Toolkit white paper will be published in the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (IILP) Review next spring. The committee has been sponsoring renowned diversity speakers at ALA annual conferences for the past few years and has followed these presentations with successful committee-led workshops.
I urge you to utilize the resources that are available to you on ALA’s diversity webpage at www.alanet.org/diversity or contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or for guidance with your diversity programming. We look forward to visiting your chapter to present 60 Tips but we are also finalizing other presentations and resources that will be made available to you in the fall of 2016.
The diversity and inclusion landscape is constantly changing. As a result, the committee persistently revises, edits and updates our resources to ensure they are current and timely. There is a business case to be made for having a diverse and inclusive work environment and we are very proud of ALA’s commitment and of the work we have been doing to help you achieve this. So, allow us the opportunity to help you create or satisfactorily respond to a diversity RFP, to ensure you retain that client you’ve been soliciting. Or, invite us to train your attorneys and partners on the benefits of an intergenerational workforce.
We stand ready to assist you and look forward to hearing from you.
Jenniffer A. Brown
Chair, ALA Committee on Diversity and Inclusion
Weiner, Millo, Morgan & Bonanno, LLC