The LMASE Annual Conference didn't disappoint on many levels, but one talk that particularly struck a chord with me was the brilliant presentation from the wonderful trio of Lee Watts (Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Bass, Berry & Sims,) Danielle Smith (Womens Initiative Manager at Baker Donelson) and Leeann Huynh (Inclusion & Diversity Coordinator at Brandley Arant). What was the topic… well, it was about using your own circle of influence to become a DEI Champion and cleverly, broken into various segments you might touch upon in Marketing & BD.
- Be intentional with where value is added.
- Pitches and Client Teams - when considering both pitches and client teams, look internally at the individuals you are including, but importantly, don't forget to consider who is on the other side of the table. Look at their org. charts, what initiatives are being run etc.
- Alumni Programme - this is great to leverage. Alumni can be invited as speakers at events, they provide wise external counsel to bounce ideas off of, and can give insights into clients' thoughts if they are in-house.
- Joint Ventures - consider opportunities to collaborate with clients on programmes and events.
- External Opportunites - Danielle shared a wonderful example of how to promote a 3rd year associate externally. This individual wasn't sure how to elevate their profile, so Danielle established their interests. Then they looked in the local community at what non-profit boards they might get involved with and found a brilliant non-profit sports board they could add value as a part of.
PR and Communications:
- Author & Speaker Opportunities and Awards - each of these opportunities are great for self promotion but also present ‘quick wins’ as attorneys want it to be easy for them and this gives them a good reason to get involved.
- External and Internal Firm Messaging - present good ideas to those around you; even if they are not used, it helps to build your personal reputation.
- When involved with events, there are numerous considerations for recognising DEI including - content, suppliers, dietary considerations, timing of events, guest list, wheelchair access, sign language (provide for all disabilities).
- Personal stories from within the firm are the most powerful. Use them.
- Get involved and offer thoughts.
- Diverse recruiting opportunities come from looking outside of the norm.
What this really shows, is that it really is a multifaceted approach where there are ample opportunities to influence DEI in your day-to-day life.