Towards a Culture of Inclusion
Creating workplaces where everyone has the opportunity to thrive
What is “Towards a Culture of Inclusion”?
“Towards a Culture of Inclusion” is a year-long, related series of programs designed to enhance our members’ ability to retain diverse lawyers. Some of the programs will be challenging, some fun! All will be aimed squarely at creating a culture where all lawyers can bring their authentic selves to work, thereby increasing engagement and deepening the connection between employer and employee, thereby increasing the rate of retention.
What are the goals of the series?
There are three:
- To ensure all members are equally fluent on issues relating to the inclusion and retention of diverse lawyers and are equipped with the tools to address them.
- To expand the number of individuals throughout the Pittsburgh legal community who are engaged in the inclusion conversation.
- To train a cohort of Diversity Allies certified by the PLDIC who will have the knowledge and skills to help maintain a culture of inclusion in their firms and law departments— and additionally, whose presence in a firm or law department can be used to help with recruitment.
What kind of programming will be part of the series?
There will be three different kinds of programming: (1) traditional training — always interactive — by experts in their fields; (2) facilitated conversations on race and difference; and (3) “extracurriculars.”
I know about trainings and facilitated conversations, but what in the world are “extracurriculars”?
We know that the best way for an individual to overcome implicit bias is by exposure to people who are different from that individual. We also know that our firms and law departments are still fairly homogeneous. The “extracurriculars” will provide opportunities to be in spaces where will we hear from and interact with a diverse range of people and ideas.
Who is the programming for? Who should attend?
Anybody who is interested in any of the individual programs or the series as a whole is invited to attend. But we especially designed the series for leaders and emerging leaders in our member organizations. And by presenting programs which are interesting and engaging, we hope to attract people who may not have participated in Coalition or other diversity-related programming in the past.
When will the series begin?
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we don’t know yet. We had hoped to kick off the series in April 2020 at our Spring Members Meeting, but that became impossible as Pennsylvania instituted a stay-at-home order. Like other organizations, the Coalition will take its cues from state and local medical and epidemiological experts. Most importantly, the Coalition will be sensitive to the challenges and needs of its member law firms and law departments as they confront the fall-out of this unprecedented period of uncertainty.
Can you give us some examples of the “traditional” programming you will present?
Sure. The series will kick off when it is able to with a presentation by Ritu Bhasin. Ritu is a highly engaging speaker who will design her program specifically for our members and for this series. Other trainings will build on this initial program with the aim of together making a real difference. For example, Dr. William T.L. Cox, a social scientist in the University of Wisconsin’s Prejudice and Intergroup Relations Lab, will continue the discussion of bias interruption, offering the only bias interruption training that we know of whose efficacy is proved by empirical data. For more, go to The Atlantic.
We anticipate two or three additional trainings before we wrap up “Towards a Culture of Inclusion” about a year after it ends.
How about an example of the “extracurriculars?”
Organizations all over Pittsburgh present programs which celebrate the arts and culture of various racial and ethnic groups or which tackle issues related to race and difference — or rather, they will when they are able to again. For example, had we been able to begin this series in April, we would have offered tickets to Coalition members to hear Robin DiAngelo, the author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, speak at the Pittsburgh Arts & Lecture Series. We may yet be able to participate in this fall’s Pride Parade with the Allegheny County Bar Association’s LGBT Rights Committee, with a reception to follow on the outdoor patio at ReedSmith. Fingers crossed.
Once we get started, there will be an “extracurricular” about once a month. These small group gatherings — maybe an art opening at the August Wilson Center, a play at the City Theatre, a jazz concert at Alphabet City — will be the ideal forum for discussion and building community.
What does a person have to do to be certified as a Diversity Ally?
To be certified as a Diversity Ally, an individual must attend two of four trainings (or three, if there are five trainings), one of two conversations and four extracurriculars. Diversity Allies will be recognized at the end of the series and, hopefully, celebrated within their organizations.