Diversity and Inclusion Spotlight

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 Select Quarterly Observances 2022

April

 


Autism-Awareness-Month

April is Autism Acceptance Month, which was established to raise awareness about the broad range of conditions that can affect an individual’s development of social, communication and behavioral skills.

National-Volunteer-Month-1-914x700April is National Volunteer Month, which was started in 1991 to encourage volunteerism at a young age. By volunteering, people can help save lives and create better environments for us all to live within. Thanking volunteers, such as volunteer fire and ambulance departments, is also an aspect of the celebration.

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April is National Arab American Heritage Month, which celebrates Arab American heritage and culture and pays tribute to the contributions of Arab Americans.

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April 2: World Autism Awareness Day was created to raise awareness of this developmental disorder.

 

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April 16: DC Emancipation Day marks the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia in 1862. Over 3,000 enslaved persons were freed eight months before the Emancipation Proclamation liberated slaves in the South.

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April 22: This marks the Day of Silence, during which students take a daylong vow of silence to protest the actual silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students and their straight allies due to bias and harassment.


May



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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This month was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks on the project were Chinese.

Older-Americans-Month-914x700May is Older Americans Month. It was established in 1963 to honor the legacies and contributions of older Americans and to support them as they enter their next stage of life.
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May is Mental Health Awareness Month and aims to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses and reduce the stigma that surrounds them.

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May is Jewish American Heritage Month and focuses on the diverse contributions of Jewish people to American culture. 

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May 17: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is a global celebration of diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

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May 19 or 21: Malcolm X Day is celebrated either on his birthday (May 19) or the third Friday of May. The commemoration was proposed as an official state holiday in Illinois in 2015 and Missouri in 2019. At present, only the city of Berkeley, California, observes the holiday with city offices and schools closed.

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May 21: World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is a day set aside by the United Nations as an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to live together in harmony. 

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May 25: African Liberation Day, or African Freedom Day, is a day to mark “the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.”

June



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June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month. It was established to recognize the impact that LGBTQ individuals have had on the world. June 28 is also the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. LGBTQ groups celebrate this special time with pride parades, picnics, parties, memorials for those lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS, and other group gatherings.

Immigrant-Heritage-Month-917x700June is Immigrant Heritage Month, which was established in 2014. It gives people across the United States an opportunity to annually explore their own heritage and celebrate the shared diversity that forms the unique story of America. It celebrates immigrants across the United States and their contributions to their local communities and economy.
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June 2: Native American Citizenship Day commemorates the day in 1924 when the U.S. Congress passed legislation recognizing the citizenship of Native Americans.

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June 19: Juneteenth or Freedom Day/Emancipation Day honors the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas and Louisiana finally heard that they were free — two full months after the end of the Civil War. This date, therefore, became the day of emancipation for thousands of Black people in the United States. Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, slaves in Texas waited more than two and a half years to learn of their freedom — until the Union Army arrived in Galveston and ordered that slavery end in the Lone Star State. Ever since, many Black Americans have celebrated that date as “Juneteenth Independence Day.” Juneteenth is an official state holiday in Texas and became a federal holiday in 2021, the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was adopted in 1983.


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Pride Month: What Is It and How Can Law Firms Celebrate

As more law firms open back up, you may be looking to recognize Pride Month this June. There are plenty of ways to mark this month within your legal organization. Impactful Pride celebrations and initiatives take significant forethought and preparation, which means now is a great time to start planning.

According to the Library of Congress, “The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.”

That’s where this article can help. We’ve outlined what you need to know about how Pride Month came to be, as well as some things to keep in mind during your planning process.

WHAT IS PRIDE MONTH?

Pride Month is rooted in the resistance to discrimination against the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community. Its placement in June honors the Stonewall Uprising, when patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Manhattan, fought back against a police raid on June 28, 1969. It is considered a tipping point in the gay liberation movement.

One year after the Stonewall Uprising, on June 28, 1970, organizers planned a march in Central Park. They built the first march on the spirit of resistance and adopted the theme of “Gay Pride” as a counterpoint to the prevailing attitude of shame.

7 WAYS TO CELEBRATE PRIDE MONTH

If you are looking for ways to celebrate Pride in June, we’ve got eight suggestions to get you started.

1. Organize Pride office celebrations: Treat your employees to a midday break with Pride-themed treats and goodies. Take it even one step further by identifying and supporting local LGBTQ-owned businesses.

2. Attend Pride parades as a group or join online parades: Most major cities have some sort of Pride celebration (e.g., parades, festivals or other events). Law firms can attend the parade or events as a group, sponsor parking passes or rides to and from the event, or even get involved by marching in the parade itself. If your firm is unable to gather for an in-person parade, consider having your group attend a virtual or livestreamed event together.

3. Host an LGBTQ lunch and learn: Lunch and learns are a great way to impart knowledge, educate your employees and initiate discussions. Consider reaching out to your local LGBTQ community center to hire a trained professional to educate your firm about the history or how to be inclusive.

4. Use social media and blog posts: One of the most popular ways to observe Pride Month online is to dedicate a social media post or campaign to the occasion. Firms can share relevant images or quotes, highlight prominent LGBTQ historical figures, or spotlight LGBTQ employees (assuming that you get prior permission from them and that such posts are consistent with your firm’s social media guidelines).

Sharing resources and spreading awareness on allyship is another great use of law firm platforms. Firms can also coordinate a social media takeover to give LGBTQ organizations or businesses a shout-out. If blogging is more your thing, use it to educate about Pride Month or to highlight LGBTQ employees within your firm, including finding out and sharing what Pride means to them (again, with permission).

5. Make charitable donations: One of the most meaningful Pride ideas is to make a company donation to an LGBTQ organization. You can either make one large donation to a particular organization or offer to match individual employee contributions to an organization of their choice, up to a specified amount.

6. Send Pride Month emails: One of the easiest and least expensive means of celebrating Pride Month is to send a special email to all employees consistent with your firm’s communication policies. The message can include various elements such as quotes, profiles of LGBTQ figures, historical facts, reading suggestions, links to LGBTQ fundraisers, links to resources and more.

7. Start a pro bono program: For a long-term commitment, consider establishing a formal pro bono program with, or do pro bono work under an existing program for, LGBTQ legal service groups. Many cities have legal service nonprofits for low-income transgender individuals or people living with HIV/AIDS. Establishing a long-term relationship with such groups will truly demonstrate your commitment to LGBTQ rights and to public interest work. After all, supporting the LGBTQ community shouldn’t stop at the end of June.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Your law firm’s focus should be on allyship and inclusivity. With that in mind, consider giving employees the option to participate in any Pride-related celebration. Employees may opt out of celebrating Pride Month for a variety of reasons. While Pride Month is about togetherness and inclusion, it is also important to respect all team members’ feelings and beliefs. Forcing participation can be counterproductive, and there is a big difference between opting out of celebrating and preventing others from celebrating.

Whichever way your firm decides to celebrate Pride Month, be authentic and understand that it’s about much more than rainbow swag. It is an opportunity for law firms to acknowledge LGBTQ employees and clients, letting them know that they belong and that your firm values, includes and respects them.

Dorothy Rausa
Director of Business Development and Marketing
CDF Labor Law LLP