Welcoming A New Year
During 2004, the legal profession made a number of key strides with respect to diversity, and as we start a fresh new year, it’s encouraging to note several areas of progress. For the first time in the nation’s legal history, the two major bar associations (ACC and the ABA) are headed by people of color. At MCCA®, our new Chair Cathy Lamboley, Shell Oil’s general counsel, is leading our strategic planning for the future.
From my unique bird’s eye view, I see more law departments and firms working cooperatively toward diversity progress, reflecting the fact that diversity is on the “A list” of priorities at many world-class organizations. Gays and lesbians, previously an often-ignored sector of the profession, are being increasingly included in the discussion. Within the chief legal officer community, top general counsel of both genders and all races are joining together for a renewed diversity “Call to Action,” which you will learn more about in the cover story of this issue of Diversity & the Bar®. In addition, it was the general counsel community that also led the production of the 2005 Vault/MCCA Guide to Law Firm Diversity Programs, a first-of-its-kind resource that will enable meaningful comparisons regarding the diversity efforts underway at many of the nation’s top law firms. There has never been such an outpouring of interest and support, and we at MCCA invite those who may have been sitting on the sidelines to make a New Year’s resolution now to become a catalyst for progress.
A few months ago, after noticing that white men were in the minority at a recent diversity program that was otherwise “sold out,” I started to question again whether the way we’ve approached the issues may make this group feel reticent or excluded. Since diversity progress is never about making any group feel unwelcome or pushed out, I reframed the question: what approaches might engage more white men to participate in the diversity dialogue, take increased ownership of the issue along with their minority or female colleagues, and be more active contributors to diversity efforts?
MCCA then spoke to Bill Proudman, a respected diversity consultant with experience working with corporations toward the greater engagement of white male employees as full diversity partners. I’m very pleased to announce that during 2005, Proudman will be penning a new column for Diversity & the Bar titled “White Men and Diversity,” and we’re betting his perspectives will get all of us talking.
In addition, true to our mission of supporting minority attorneys’ advancement, MCCA is investing more resources to assist individual career development. Our research tells us that people with mentors advance further and faster than those who lack them. In fact, accomplished people rank their mentors second only to educational preparedness as key contributors to their success. Therefore, during 2005, the issue of mentoring will receive increased emphasis by MCCA. One of my mentors, Lloyd M. Johnson, Jr., MCCA’s founder and former executive director, will contribute a regular column titled “Mentoring Across Differences,” with the goal of helping to empower all lawyers to build more effective mentoring relationships notwithstanding racial, gender, or cultural differences.
There will be a big change during 2005 for the MCCA staff. For the past five years, Winston & Strawn has very generously donated office space to MCCA. In April 2005, Winston will be moving to 1700 K Street, NW. I’m delighted to say that MCCA has been invited to come along. So if you like what we do, please join us in thanking Winston & Strawn for offering MCCA a new home!
Veta T. Richardson
From the January/February 2005 issue of Diversity & The Bar®