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December 31, 2013

Starting the Conversation About Race

by contributor
Learn about our Diversity and Inclusion Plan and our “inside out” philosophy.

iStock_000022515394Small300Recently, some colleagues and I attended the Pacific Science Center exhibit Race: Are We So Different? (which runs through Jan. 5, 2014). Our participation has led to some interesting water cooler conversations around the office.

And really, that’s why we went.

When WSBA adopted its first-ever Diversity & Inclusion Plan this summer, we committed to an “inside out” philosophy. This approach is one of the keys we hope will unlock some new understanding and thinking about how to advance diversity in the legal profession. Our leadership, staff, and volunteers are working to learn what roles we each play in dismantling barriers and creating a culture of inclusion. That requires understanding each other’s experiences.

Today I heard one co-worker describe the exhibit as “powerful.” Another said she was “underwhelmed.” Talking about our reactions breaks the ice for us to share with each other a little about our personal experiences with race.

Much like Washington state as a whole, about one in four WSBA staff (27%) identify as other than white. We can learn a lot from each other. In doing so, we learn a little more about the public we’re here to serve, and about our lawyer members who come from backgrounds that are historically underrepresented within the bar.

One dialogue-provoking field trip, of course, isn’t a panacea. But it’s also not a bad place to start.

Looking to start your own conversation? Here are some upcoming opportunities related to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession:

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