A Perfect Storm: Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion have always been important to INTA, but this year the Association is putting these issues in the spotlight even more so. INTA’s Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting includes a dedicated diversity and inclusion track and a diverse range speakers addressing these timely topics. Sarah Morgan reports.
“The focus on racial justice and systemic racism following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Amaud Arbury, and countless other Black people, amid a global pandemic and the economic crisis have fueled a movement.”
Trisch Smith, Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Edelman (US)
It has taken an entire decade for the percentage of black attorneys at law firms in the U.S. to recover after the Great Recession (2007–2009), according to the National Association of Law Placement, Inc (NALP).
Diversity in the legal profession took a huge hit after the financial collapse, with minority lawyers in the United States particularly hard hit. Take for example, Black or African-American representation. In 2019, Black or African-American representation among associates in U.S. law firms finally eclipsed the level (4.66%) reached in 2009 for the first time since the Great Recession, although only by one-tenth of a percentage point, according to the NALP.
It has taken 10 years to reach this point. Couple that with the Black Lives Matter movement, which has brought the discourse about race and equality to the forefront, and it’s clear that diversity and inclusion (D&I) should be firmly on any company’s agenda—whether located in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world.
For years, there’s been stilted progress across the legal industry. While many firms and organizations have introduced initiatives, committees, and programs to balance inequities, the sector remains dominated by a select group marked by a lack of diversity.
And, it’s not just law firms that are lagging behind—in the United Kingdom, while 60 percent of lawyers working in-house are women, just 1.5% percent are disabled, while Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) lawyers are underrepresented at 18 percent, according to statistics published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Now is a pivotal moment: embrace diversity to benefit your employees and your company, both in terms of reputation and the bottom line, or stand against a rising tide.
“The focus on racial justice and systemic racism following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Amaud Arbury, and countless other Black people, amid a global pandemic and the economic crisis have fueled a movement. As a result, there are increased discussions and calls to action in ways we could not have predicted,” said Trisch Smith, Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Edelman (US). >>>
“In the U.K., while 60% of lawyers working in-house are women, just 1.5% are disabled, while Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) lawyers are underrepresented at 18%.”
Solicitors Regulation Authority
Learn from the Best With D&I in the public eye more than ever, and as an increasingly priority issue for INTA, for the first time, this year's Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting will offer a D&I track. Experts will discuss the topic in various formats: panel discussions, Capsule Keynotes, workshops, and town halls.
On Tuesday, November 17, between 11:15 am and 11:45 am (EST), Ms. Smith will present a Capsule Keynote, focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion in today's changing and unchartered environment. In her role at Edelman, Ms. Smith oversees D&I training and development efforts, and she leads diversity recruitment, external partnerships, and overall strategic engagement.
“During these increasingly challenging times, silence is not an option for organizations. However, what is said must be backed by meaningful action,” she said. “I hope this conversation results in people feeling empowered to lean in and learn, so they can be active in driving change.”
In addition to sharing strategic imperatives related to best practices for organizations, Ms. Smith will share Edelman's recent research around systemic racism and brands’ and companies’ responsibility to act to drive change.
Edelman’s two Trust Barometer reports, which focus on brands and racial justice in the U.S., both reveal that most consumers want—and expect—companies and brands to step up and play a central role in addressing racism. Indeed, the earlier report noted that 60 percent of respondents said that brands must take a stand to publicly speak out against racial injustice.
“We've hit a pivotal point where change must happen—the dual expectation and push from employees and consumers are too significant,” Ms. Smith said.
She hopes people walk away from the session with “clear ideas on how to intentionally and purposefully advance D&I within their own organizations.”
Ms. Smith’s passion for D&I work has been fueled by her own life and professional experiences. For nearly 20 years, she’s counseled major brands on how to engage diverse audiences or manage multicultural/D&I communications-related issues.
“Many times, I was often the only diverse person in the room, and I knew that couldn't be my story for my entire career and I voiced my desire for change,” recalled Ms. Smith.
Also from the C-suite, Carla Harris, Vice Chairman of Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley (US), will present a Capsule Keynote (Thursday, November 19, 2:00 pm–2:30 pm [EST]), sharing experiences and insights from her diverse life experiences.
Ms. Harris was appointed to chair the National Women’s Business Council by former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2013, and now leads Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab, an accelerator program for technology and technology-enabled startups with a multicultural or woman founder.
“Timing is everything. I suggested The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative as I was talking about plans for my 2020 presidency.”
2020 INTA President Ayala Deutsch
Women in Leadership
The Association has been building momentum on D&I throughout the past year. On March 8, to coincide with International Women’s Day, INTA unveiled The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative. The initiative is designed to champion and advance women’s leadership in intellectual property (IP), acknowledge the important role of women in the IP field, and provide sustained programs to help women in the Association’s community achieve professional success.
“Timing is everything. I suggested The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative as I was talking about plans for my 2020 presidency. That’s happening at the same time as the Association’s Planning Committee is looking at the next strategic plan, and that’s happening at the same time as the world is looking at a lot of issues around diversity and inclusion,” said 2020 INTA President Ayala Deutsch. “It’s a perfect storm for looking at diversity more broadly.”
Since its launch, The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative has held a series of workshops. During the Annual Meeting, a workshop on advancing women’s leadership will be offered several times (Monday, November 16, 11:15 am–1:45 pm (EST), Tuesday, November 17, 7:00 am–9:30 am (EST), and Thursday, November 19, 10:30 am–1:00 pm (GMT+8.00)). Limited seats are available; register now.
Participants will discuss current realities and learn ways to support each other as they communicate and collaborate more effectively. You’ll walk away from the workshop with the fundamental building blocks to enable women and men to cooperate in eliminating the inequities of women’s representation in senior leadership roles.
“When I became president of INTA, I felt that with our focus and one of our strategic priorities being diversity and inclusion, there was not only a very good opportunity to serve the women who are members of the organization but also an opportunity to serve the IP community at large to bring a focus on leadership for women,” added Ms. Deutsch.
“The Bias Challenge Workshop focuses on understanding biases, where biases come from, and how we can eradicate them.”
Vonnetta West, founder and CEO of Go West Consulting LLC (US)
Bias and Brands
At the Annual Meeting there are myriad other opportunities to learn more about D&I and the benefits it can bring to your organization, alongside the pitfalls to avoid. On Tuesday, November 17, between 2:45 pm and 4:15 pm (EST), Vonnetta West, founder and CEO of Go West Consulting LLC (US), will lead The Bias Challenge Workshop.
It’s no secret that there’s bias in the legal industry—the 2018 study “You Can’t Change What You Can’t See” published by the American Bar Association, confirms that widespread gender and racial bias permeates hiring, promotion, assignments, and compensation in the U.S. More than half of the women attorneys of color, and half of white women lawyers, surveyed say they have been mistaken for administrative staff or janitors. Only seven percent of white male lawyers report a similar occurrence.
“The Bias Challenge Workshop focuses on understanding biases, where biases come from, and how we can eradicate them,” said Ms. West. “I believe that having this discussion and planning for more humane, productive engagement will make our workplaces, homes, and communities more equitable and constructive.”
Participants will engage in an introspective and retrospective workshop focused on revealing, challenging, and removing biases within individuals and organizations. Space is limited so sign up now.
Ms. West added: “We can have diverse, inclusive spaces, but still struggle with having biases as barriers to our most excellent work and relationships. Let’s remove the bias barriers. That’s what I hope and know the workshop can prepare participants to accomplish.”
“I hope people will take some of the ideas shared during the Town Hall, tweak them for their organizations, and implement changes so that we no longer have a need for Town Hall discussions about D&I in the future.”
Tywanda Harris Lord, Partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP (US)
The next day, Wednesday, November 18, between 9:30 am and 11:00 am (EST), INTA will host Town Hall: Inclusion—A Must-Have for Brands and Brand Legal Professionals. During the Town Hall, three panelists, who have been champions of D&I for most of their careers, will share their personal journeys and what we must do to create a more diverse and supportive community.
They also will discuss the importance of D&I and explore why the legal industry lags behind other industries in hiring and advancing diverse talent.
One of the speakers, Tywanda Harris Lord, Partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP (US), hopes that the discussion will energize people who are already undertaking D&I work, while also impress upon others the need to take an active role in their own organizations.
“D&I work is rewarding, but it’s also exhausting, slow, and frustrating,” Ms. Lord said. “I hope people will take some of the ideas shared during the Town Hall, tweak them for their organizations, and implement changes so that we no longer have a need for Town Hall discussions about D&I in the future.”
“Embracing D&I is not only the right thing to do, it's also good for business. The journey may not be comfortable, but ultimately it can be rewarding on many levels.”
Michael Moore, Assistant General Counsel, Senior Director, Trademarks & Copyrights, Mattel, Inc. (US)
Meanwhile, Diversity and Inclusion: How to Live Your Values to the Benefit of Your People and Your Brand (Thursday, November 19, 11:45 am–12:45 pm (EST)) will give registrants the opportunity to learn more how companies have used D&I programs to transform their businesses.
According to Sanjana Sharma, Associate General Counsel, Intellectual Property at UL LLC (US) and session moderator, “The research shows that being diverse and inclusive leads to more innovative products and services, long-term employee retention, and higher financial performance. We also see that more and more, brands are being called out as not being inclusive.”
Panelists will discuss the role brands can play in shaping D&I efforts, while highlighting the journeys of two iconic brands, Barbie and Harley-Davidson, as examples. Once upon a time, Mattel Inc. (US), the manufacturer of Barbie—one of the most recognizable children’s toys in the world—faced criticism for reinforcing harmful ideas around body image and beauty standards.
Kim Culmone, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Design for Barbie and Fashion Dolls at Mattel, Inc., led a Barbie redesign effort, code-named Project Dawn, which ushered in a new age of “curvy” Barbie dolls.
“I will share my journey as the head of design for the Barbie brand and our process of becoming the most diverse doll line available,” Ms. Culmone said. “I hope our experiences at Mattel highlight the importance and positive impact of increasing D&I in our workplaces and in our product lines. Evolution isn’t always easy—but the effort is worthy and essential.”
Ms. Culmone will sit alongside Michael Moore, Assistant General Counsel, Senior Director, Trademarks & Copyrights, Mattel, Inc. (US), and Adraea Brown, Assistant General Counsel–Trademarks at H-D U.S.A. LLC, (US), known for its Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Mr. Moore noted that those in the legal profession “have a special obligation to work towards equal justice. I hope to inspire IP professionals to consider what they can do to promote and support D&I, and bring ‘purpose’ to their practice.”
He concluded: “Embracing D&I is not only the right thing to do, it's also good for business. The journey may not be comfortable, but ultimately it can be rewarding on many levels.”
For registrants in the Asia-Pacific region, the above panel session will repeat on Friday, November 20, 10:00 am–11:00 am (GMT +8), as a Watch Party—a new feature this year that will give registrants the opportunity to view a recorded version of a session―and live chat about it!―with others in the same time zone.
Attention to D&I issues will go beyond the educational program—and spill over into networking opportunities, namely Table Topics. For example, one of these moderator-led discussion groups will explore “Gender Diversity at the Top of Legal Organizations: How Senior Male Attorneys Can Be Strong Allies and Champion Concrete Progress Towards Gender Diversity”; and another will look at “Diversity & Inclusion—Brand Owner Expectations and Private Practice Approach: What’s Holding Private Practice Firms Back in Being Truly Diverse & Inclusive.”
Participants must preregister to attend Table Topics, and there’s a limit of two Table Topics per registrant. However, there are plenty of seats available—including at sessions on D&I.
Footage used under license from Envato Elements / Puzurin
Wednesday, October 14, 2020