And right in front of our eyes, human and civil rights in the United States appear to be taking a step back rather than moving forward. The recent striking down of race-based affirmative action programs in U.S. colleges, the Supreme Court of the United States’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and the four bills that were signed recently in Florida restricting LGBTQ+ rights, have opened our eyes to how important it is for us to continue to support each other this holiday season.
Here are a few things to remember:
- Being diverse does not always mean you are different. Being diverse means you or someone you know may struggle in ways and for reasons that others may not understand or even recognize.
- Teaching equity, unfortunately, will never mean that everyone will eventually be treated the same. There will always be some who have more and some who have less.
- Inclusion should extend to everyone, and the process can begin by extending a helping hand or a listening ear to someone who might be alone or in need of a friend.
If life has taught me anything at all, it is that you cannot always count on tomorrow to make things right with those who have crossed your path. So why should we wait for the holiday season each year to openly express love, joy, peace and a desire to share our time with others? This should be our goal as ALA members and members of the legal profession all 12 months of the year. Let’s explore ways to heighten our awareness of others, starting today.
Begin by taking a look at your firm. Do new employees feel welcome? Moving and changing jobs is extremely stressful. Newcomers might find themselves lost in a crowd of colleagues they don’t know — they have lost their familiar work safety net. Please think twice about telling someone “No” when a new employee asks for an opportunity to volunteer. You may have just inherited a diamond from another firm who has tons of experience and is ready to shine twice as bright for their new firm. However, that shine can easily become cloudy if they are turned away from contributing due to ingrained practices that make your new employee jump through hoops before they can be considered to chair a committee or take on another leadership role.
“If life has taught me anything at all, it is that you cannot always count on tomorrow to make things right with those who have crossed your path. So why should we wait for the holiday season each year to openly express love, joy, peace, and a desire to share our time with others? This should be our goal as ALA members and members of the legal profession all 12 months of the year.”
Are your firm’s activities planned for inclusion? Are they also accommodating for employees with disabilities? Is the title or theme of a program something that might offend a member from a different religion or culture? These are all very important points to take into consideration — even from the early planning stage.
Of course, those who create inclusivity deserve to be included themselves. Joining an ALA chapter or getting involved at the international level are great ways to immerse yourself in a community of your legal management peers. Many chapters have mentoring programs and various opportunities to become a leader in ways that are different from your day-to-day work.
There are so many things going on in the world and beneath the surface of every person you meet. It is hard for people to express that pain to others if they feel shut out or believe that they will be treated differently for expressing a feeling or emotion. Everyone should be proud to share love, pain, laughter, tears, successes and failures with others. It has never been more important to begin building trust through transparency and celebrating people just the way they are.