Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Spotlight
Learn More About Select Quarterly Observances
Each quarter, we'll highlight several observances and explain the significance of each. Additionally, we'll spotlight an article related to one of these observances. It's a great opportunity to learn more about the meaning behind the observances you know — or don't know.
Plan Ahead with ALA's Annual Heritage and Cultural Celebration Calendar
We’ve put together a new resource for you as you plan your DEIA initiatives: An annual Heritage and Cultural Celebration Calendar. It lists some widely recognized awareness months and day(s) for diversity-related specific groups, cultures and/or causes, including holidays and national events. We hope it will help you start (and continue) the conversation on these vital topics.
We suggest sharing this guide with others, beyond the legal management team, within your legal organization to help coordinate DEIA-focused events and educational programming throughout the year. Consider sharing our Heritage and Cultural Celebration Calendar with the following teams in your legal organization:
- Marketing Department to plan social media posts and/or to add to the DEIA-focused page on your firm’s website.
- HR Department to increase employee morale programming and/or for inclusion in communication to all employees explaining when offices are closed for the upcoming year.
- IT Department so they can add on your firm’s intranet.
- Chief Diversity Officer or DEIA Committee so they can plan related events and programming for the year.
An additional resource you might find helpful is this interfaith calendar that serves as a useful guide to honor special practices and important observances in your legal departments and law firms.
Announcing ALA's Heritage and Cultural Celebration Calendar
The Association of Legal Administrators’ Diversity Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) Committee has put together a brand new and exciting resource for members to use — a Heritage and Cultural Celebration Calendar for your law firm or organization.
One of the driving goals behind the efforts of ALA’s DEIA Committee is to “see and feel our commitment to diversity in everything we do.” With that in mind, the committee has assembled this annual calendar that lists the widely recognized awareness months and day(s) for diversity-related specific groups, cultures and/or causes, including holidays and national events. The committee developed this list to support legal management professionals in planning DEIA efforts and engagement calendars, and to help fellow members in fostering inclusive workplace environments both for current employees and future recruits.
Implementing a calendar like this within your own legal organization creates a space and endless opportunities for employees to learn more about the rich histories, important observances and cultural traditions of the people we work with. It can also create a greater range of marketing opportunities to appeal to new potential clients. Furthermore, such a calendar raises awareness of the importance and understanding of a particular group. It can spark a conversation or even set a tone throughout your organization that you recognize and understand that every employee matters. There is an intrinsic sense of belonging and employee satisfaction when our employees feel as though they belong. This is inclusivity at its best.
You can now download a copy of the Heritage and Cultural Celebration Calendar that was created in early 2023 on the Association’s website.
5 Steps to Consider When Implementing a Cultural and Heritage Celebration Calendar
In the meantime, has this got you thinking about adapting this calendar (or creating your own) for your legal organization’s website? If so, the following steps can help you plan.
- First, discuss with your managing partners whether a diversity calendar is right for your legal organization. Depending on the size of your firm, the resources available to your office or the time that is available to devote to this case may or may not make it a perfect idea. As with all projects, buy-in from leadership is critical. Also at this step, it is very important to consider the budget and resources that your firm is willing to put behind this.
- Speak with a small representative group of your employees. Let them know your ideas on implementing the calendar and get their opinions and feedback about what they’d like to see come out of this endeavor. Listening will go a long way here.
- Develop a plan and a timetable to both distribute and implement the calendar. Will you recognize certain days? If so, which ones and why? I would suggest that this process be systemic and procedural so that there is little room for bias or confusion. Will there be any plans for programming and activities at any time? For example, a speaker series or monthly luncheon covering a specific cause or group would be a good way to get the whole office involved in inclusivity.
- Don’t just set it and forget it: Ensure that it is a living, breathing document that is central to that firm's values and beliefs and is something that employees can easily access—not just something that’s posted on your website. Where is it displayed in the office? How often is it referenced or brought up?
- Celebrating our employees and their unique backgrounds and differences should not just be one single day of one month. Develop ways to acknowledge them and make them feel valued, respected and esteemed 365 days a year!
While finalizing the Cultural Heritage/Diversity calendar for your office — and when considering which dates to add — remember that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has some guidelines that need to be considered. Federal law requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause difficulty or expense for the employer. This means that an employer may have to make reasonable adjustments at work that will allow the employee to practice his or her religion.
JaNae De. Martin
Helmers + Associates