Creating Pathways to Diversity: Three Takeaways from the MCCA Conference
As the marketing specialist with a fast-growing company like Level 2 Legal Solutions, my role extends beyond the traditional marketing position. Sometimes I’m editing the weekly internal newsletter, retouching headshots for our new eDiscovery attorneys, or planning a company-wide happy hour. And often, I represent Level 2 Legal as a conference attendee or sponsor. One of my personal goals at work is to contribute to a welcoming, inclusive environment for all of our employees.
In April 2018, we sponsored our first MCCA event – the Global TEC Forum in Austin, Texas. The mission of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association is to advance the hiring, retention, and promotion of diverse lawyers in in-house law departments and law firms by providing best practices, professional development, research, and training – not to mention hosting exceptional events throughout the year. And for me, each experience has provided remarkable content, actionable strategy, and meaningful relationships.
Recently I represented Level 2 Legal at MCCA’s fall conference in New York: Creating Pathways to Diversity. This event targets the most pressing challenges surrounding diversity, inclusion, and equity in the legal profession, including areas for improved organizational execution of a diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiative.
In addition to the thoughtful talks given by each panelist, MCCA hosted Dine-Around dinners at local restaurants. From exchanging life stories to discussing the ideas presented in the sessions, those dinners were the highlight of my week. Every person around the table was open, honest, and passionate about advancing D&I efforts in their organizations.
We all shared the same vision: To see the next generation of legal leaders represent the real diversity of our everyday lives.
That’s a worthy goal. But how does that happen from a practical standpoint? Here are three takeaways I learned through the MCCA:
- Create an environment that encourages open dialogue. One organization began a series called “Courageous Conversations,” bringing staff together to discuss difficult topics. Sparking the dialogue of discussing “undiscussables” is a step toward understanding differences and creating a broader sense of mutual belonging. Sometimes we don’t speak up because we don’t want to say the wrong thing, but we must lead by leaning into difficult conversations to learn.
- Tell your story. Listen to others’ stories. Embrace the differences. It all begins by understanding people have realities outside of my experience. We must practice listening with empathy and not be quick to judge the differences. Instead – flip the script, find commonality, and embrace our differences.
- Align D&I with the core goals of your business. We need diverse voices to create an inclusive environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to advance and succeed, and it starts with changing the culture. Vernā Myers, D&I pioneer and Netflix VP of Inclusion Strategy, stated it clearly: “D&I is about a cultural change process that a company's leaders have to be deeply committed to for the long term to truly reap the benefits of D&I. This requires an examination of all aspects of the business and the willingness to change behaviors, systems, and practices to create equity.”
The benefits of enhancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace are clearly documented – qualitatively and quantitively. And from the MCCA Pathways Conference, I have learned that no one-size-fits-all approach works, but you have to be open to trying. Proskauer D&I Officer Peter Wilson, Jr. said it well, “In the space of D&I, you have got to be willing to go out on a limb and try new things. Law firms don’t like doing things that have been untested. Don’t be afraid to be different and set yourself apart in the legal industry.”
What are some things your organization is doing to help create a diverse workplace?
About Michael Blodgett
Michael Blodgett serves as the marketing specialist for Level 2 Legal, but he's better known as the company's Chief Fun Officer. A huge part of building company culture and connection, Michael can be counted on for his energy, professionalism, and commitment to the company's values. In a short time, he has become an invaluable resource to Level 2 Legal.