On November 12, the 2015 PDLG Diversity and Inclusion Symposium: Best Practices for Retaining and Promoting Diverse Talent was held at the Union League in Philadelphia. The Symposium was part of the on-going effort by PDLG to provide programs and guidance to our members and others about fostering the success of diverse attorneys. Speakers and participants addressed barriers to retaining diverse attorneys in our legal community and considered ways to reduce or even eliminate those barriers. The focus was on such critical issues as implicit bias and how to interrupt it, the challenges of generational diversity, the particular issues for women of color, specific ways firm and law department leaders are or can be the key to ongoing efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion, and how successful diverse lawyers, including women lawyers, achieved their success and how others can follow in their footsteps.
One of the plenary speakers at the Symposium was Jerry Kang, Professor of Law and Vice Chancellor, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, UCLA, who spoke on implicit biases – attitudes and stereotypes we are neither aware of nor necessarily endorse, their real work consequences and how to counter them by improving assessment methods, work allocation and mentoring. The other plenary speaker was Lauren Stiller Rikleen, President, Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership and Visiting Scholar, Boston College Center for Work & Family, who spoke on the differences in attitudes and expectations of the various generations practicing law today and how best to navigate those differences.
During the Symposium, PDLG also introduced its newly-adopted “PDLG Member Commitments: Increasing Diversity in Philadelphia Area Law Firms and Corporate Law Departments” which charts the path the organization and its members plan to follow.
By the end of the Symposium, which culminated in a networking reception, the participants felt motivated to adopt and implement for themselves and to urge their organizations to implement some of the practices discussed.