|Message from the Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair
Diversity and Inclusion: There is so much work to do, and we will never be done.
Diversity and Inclusion are topics which will never be at rest. None of us is immune to the complications of our society, whether it is on the world's stage or in our own work environments. Diversity is so much more than what you can see: not only visible things like gender, race and culture, but also differences in politics, thought, socio-economic status, sexuality, religion and more. These all represent the sometimes difficult challenges and resonating rewards offered in pursuing our ideal of a truly diverse and inclusive society. As we see in the headlines nearly every day, each person's unique composition (our diversity) and the pressures of our culture (continued exclusion) cry out for enhanced understanding and reconciliation. This is work we all need to do and change we all need to encourage.
It is my honor and privilege to chair ALA's Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. Our nine member committee is invigorated, creative and committed, and dedicated to providing education and resources on Diversity and Inclusion for both your chapter and for you as a leader in your own legal environment. You'll find an enormous amount of resources here on our Diversity and Inclusion web pages. If you are reading this message you have already found us. Now take the time to tour what we have to offer to assist in your efforts on diversity and inclusion. This will include meaty articles on the topic, scorecards, how-to guidelines, tip sheets, a mentoring guide, recommended reading, webinars, podcasts and links to even more material.
Allow me to highlight just a few items which may be of particular interest to you and can have immediate impact. Here is my short list of must haves:
- "ALA Diversity and Inclusion Scorecard for Law Office Administrators — A Roadmap to Change" This tool provides a working chart of ways in which you can introduce and perpetuate your diversity and inclusion efforts in your law office. Not only does it provide suggested steps to take, it also has links to sample documents from other firms who have already instituted diversity and inclusion activities in their offices. Thought provoking and action oriented, it will provide great resources for your initiatives.
- "Why Diversity? The Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion" This hot-off-the-press brochure was developed to help you answer that question when your leadership struggles to understand the positive impact diversity and inclusion can have on your business. You can download the brochure or request professionally printed copies for your next event by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- "60 Tips in 75 Minutes" This presentation is hitting chapters across the country, with over 30 educational sessions already on the calendar. If it is coming to your town, be sure to attend. If it isn't scheduled near you, ask your chapter leadership to contact our committee to request a visit to your chapter. Receiving rave reviews, you are sure to come away with meaningful material and a checklist of what you can do to advance diversity and inclusion.
Our committee is currently working on additional presentations we can deliver at the chapter level and at ALA conferences. We are revamping the original Diversity Toolkit, developed in 2003. When we read this original document it was exciting for us to realize how many advances have been made since then, but it was also clear this resource needed updating. This should be available and back online this fall. We continue to work with ALA in planning conference sessions to ensure this topic is front and center at all conferences. We explore partnerships with external organizations such as the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (IILP), the Center for Legal Inclusiveness (CLI), the Leadership Counsel on Legal Diversity (LCLD), etc. to expand our reach to the larger legal community.
As I mentioned earlier, we will never be done.
For our committee of dedicated volunteers, it is a labor of passionate commitment that didn’t begin - and will not end - with our ALA assignment. We carry this charge throughout our lives and careers, and hope to leave the world a better place.
One last suggestion and I hope you'll humor me. I invite you to engage in a short exercise to help you understand this complex territory and how you personally play an important part in it. Perhaps you have already heard about implicit or unconscious bias. Don’t worry. We all have them; we can't help ourselves as human beings. But recognizing our biases can be a significant first step in advancing inclusion. Take one or more of the confidential Harvard Implicit Association tests at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html .
Self-awareness is a good start. Use the knowledge you gain from your implicit bias tests to help make changes in our world, whether they be small or large. They all matter. Just do something.
And we're here to help.
2015-2016 Chair, ALA Committee on Diversity and Inclusion
Director of Human Resources
Bowman and Brooke LLP