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Driving DE&I: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in the Legal Profession
By: Genn Bugg
Driving DE&I: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession
The death of George Floyd reignited conversations about racial inequity everywhere around the world and also in our firm. Many turned to social media to participate in online movements and spread awareness about the viral video of the violent arrest and killing of a Black man. In a firm-wide video meeting, managing partner Andy Crouppen stated, “A lot of people are active online when it comes to posting about matters relating to George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. My concern is that for some, this is the latest thing to post about, and when something else comes around, it won’t be as important to them…I don’t want this to die down until something significant has changed.”
This discussion prompted the D&I Steering Committee to continue this dialogue and to look for ways to inform and enhance awareness within our staff of over 250 people. As a result, we implemented an ongoing speaker series to provide productive dialogue sessions aimed at improving our company’s responsiveness to diversity issues. All Brown & Crouppen employees are encouraged to attend the sessions, submit questions, and participate in a rigorous discussion with educators, writers, professors, activists, and many other speakers from a variety of backgrounds.
For our first session of the speaker series, we invited Tim Wise, anti-racist educator, activist, and author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son. In his book, Wise “examines what it means to be white in a nation created for the benefit of those who are “white like him,” and how privilege seeps into every institutional arrangement, from education to employment to the justice system http://www.timwise.org/books-and-dvds/white-like-me/.” Wise spoke to our staff via video conference about bias, systemic racism, and the ways we can all work towards social change. The second half of the engagement included space for questions and discussion. Questions could be submitted through the chat, or privately, ensuring a safe, open space for all employees to be heard. Andy Crouppen moderated the Q&A. Questions ranged from when and how to respond to racism we witness in daily life to how to best talk to our children and loved ones about it. Wise graciously extended his allotted speaking time to cover every question submitted. He prompted immediate feedback from our staff who were eager to share their insights and experience of the session.
Paralegal Mary Frances Broughman shared, “I felt this was one of the best presentations the firm has had over the years! Tim Wise created an open, honest, informative discussion on a highly sensitive topic; that made me walk away wanting to learn more and understand more.”
Tammie Holland featured a portion of the session on her weekly program, This Week with Tammie Holland (Powered by Brown & Crouppen) on Facebook and Instagram. “The episode in which Tim Wise appeared resonated with people. Nearly 90K viewed a powerful portion of his talk with our staff on my show. The idealist in me is sincerely hoping the words he shared with us will inspire others to continue working for positive changes in our country,” said Tammie.
The commitment to building equity within our firm enables our staff of attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants, and other law professionals to work stronger together, connect with the community, and better engage with our diverse clientele. The Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee at Brown & Crouppen Law Firm will continue bringing our staff together to listen and learn collectively about social issues that impact all of us and our families. Through our D&I speaker series, we hope to encourage the hard conversations by providing opportunities for our staff to address diversity issues and promote seeing the world through differing points of view.