Diversity & Inclusion Counseling
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is an essential component of every company’s business. Organizations are being held accountable to report on the diversity of their organizations as a metric for overall business health.
Jackson Walker’s labor and employment attorneys are experienced and passionate about advising companies and their management on effective, legally compliant strategies to become more inclusive, welcoming, and ultimately more successful workplaces.
Our D&I practice encompasses and builds upon the Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action or Affirmative Employment legal services Jackson Walker is trusted to provide, and the services and training offered are tailored specifically with your organization’s goals, culture, and needs in mind. Our attorneys can work with employers and management to incorporate D&I concepts into a strategic initiative backed by a formal policy and/or plan to ensure your workplace enables workers from all backgrounds and experiences to work at their full potential so business can thrive.
The Benefits to Your Company of a Robust D&I Strategy and Plan
A lack of diversity and inclusion is bad for business. It promotes an unhealthy workplace by undermining morale, teamwork, and productivity; it makes it harder to recruit and retain diverse talent; and it can affect a company’s reputation and bottom line. Worse, a lack of diversity and inclusion can be costly for an organization in terms of legal liability.
A robust, successful D&I plan allows employers to foster a more welcoming workplace that respects and celebrates differences among employees and teaches employees how to collaborate while embracing diverse perspectives and experiences. A diverse and inclusive workplace is a business imperative and essential for optimal performance, which leads to real financial gains for companies.
Diversity & Inclusion Programs: Why, How, and When They Work
Download our summary of Diversity & Inclusion programs to learn the key components of success and important considerations for your business.
To achieve your D&I goals and objectives, we provide the following services:
- Advice and counseling
- D&I culture assessments and audits
- Workplace policy development and drafting
- Individualized training to both employees and management
- Development of training materials for “train-the-trainer” programs conducted internally by the company
- Recommendation of third-party vendors who provide effective & specialized D&I services or training
- Crisis management and planning
- Targeted litigation defense
Further, our attorneys are well-versed in designing and implementing individualized plans tailored to your organization to improve the workplace and minimize risk. Our individualized plans may include the following:
- Conducting Culture Assessments and Developing Goals and Metrics
- We perform a culture assessment of your organization to identify any patterns or imbalances that may hinder the development or maintenance of a diverse and inclusive workplace.
- We identify disparities and analyze the data to determine all issues and how to best determine success while operating under the attorney-client privilege.
- Your managers can feel free to ask our attorneys candid questions about D&I initiatives and promoting legal compliance in your organization.
- We then help your organization develop a clear strategy, goals, and metrics to address any disparities and to minimize risk.
- Working with your teams, we develop a plan to reach your diversity goals and to revitalize workplace practices where needed to assure D&I success and to reduce legal and compliance risk.
- We develop individualized training programs which take into consideration your unique culture and goals.
- We conduct unconscious bias training.
- Our training programs incorporate the most recent changes to employment laws, and we continually revise the training to ensure your understanding of all laws and regulations is up-to-date.
- Our experienced team of attorneys can provide training for your organization, or develop a program your organization can utilize to train its own employees.
- Crisis Management and Litigation Defense
- Our team will be with you every step of the way, from the planning stages through implementation and maintenance of your program.
- We work with you to ensure your employment policies and procedures are up to date and take into consideration all recent changes to workplace laws and regulations.
- We work with you on crisis intervention and management, and when needed, we provide effective litigation defense.
Our goal at Jackson Walker is to see our clients succeed. With a robust D&I strategy and plan, companies can demonstrate to their employees and the general public their commitment to D&I, and better attract and retain talent with a diverse set of skills and expertise to the benefit of its business.
March 23, 2023
Jamila Brinson and Shelisa Brock on Their Experiences as First-Generation Attorneys
JW Fast Takes Podcast | ~7.5 minutes
Jamila Brinson and Shelisa Brock are both first-generation attorneys who have found their place at Jackson Walker, helping provide for their families and mentoring those who are new to the legal profession. In this Fast Takes episode, Courtney White speaks with Jamila and Shelisa about their upbringings and journeys to practicing law.
May 3, 2023
As the CROWN Act Gains Momentum in Texas, Employers Should Prepare
By Dawn S. Holiday
On April 13, 2023, the Texas House of Representatives passed House Bill 567, known as the Texas CROWN Act, that would prohibit race-based discrimination in schools, workplaces, and housing. The Texas legislation is a state version of the CROWN Act, an acronym for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” a law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination, which is the denial of employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles, including braids, locks, twists, bantu knots, Afros, and cornrows.
February 14, 2023
Three Elements of a Successful Diversity & Inclusion Program
JW Fast Takes Podcast | ~5.5 minutes
What factors drive a successful diversity and inclusion program at a company? In this Jackson Walker Fast Takes episode, Houston partner Dawn Holiday shares how well-intentioned D&I programs miss the mark and provides the essential elements for success.
August 18, 2022
Five Challenges and Remedies for Effective Implementation of Employee Resource Groups
By Jamila M. Brinson
The introduction and ongoing implementation of employee resource groups is vital for companies of all sizes and all backgrounds. Not only are employee resource groups important to the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts of a company, but there are legitimate business and legal reasons to ensure their success. This article addresses best practices for effectively introducing and sustaining employee resource groups.
September 17, 2021
Why Are Diversity & Inclusion Programs Missing the Mark on Meaningful Change? | Texas Lawyer
By Dawn Holiday
With the proper planning, training, assessment tools and periodic evaluation, effective D&I programs can inspire meaningful change toward diverse and inclusive workplaces for all.
August 31, 2021
Jamila Brinson Discusses What Employers Should Know About Texas’ New Sexual Harassment Laws
With three new laws in effect concerning sexual harassment claims in Texas, Jamila Brinson spoke with Law360 about what these changes to the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act mean for employers.
July 27, 2021
Combatting COVID-19 Anti-Asian Violence in the Workplace
On May 20, 2021, the United States government enacted the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which created a “designated coordinator at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to expedite the review of reported hate crimes and hate incidents for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis” arising from anti-Asian xenophobia.
July 19, 2021
Texas Expands and Redefines Sexual Harassment Laws
~6.5 minutes | With three Texas bills set to take effect on September 1, 2021, that will expand and redefine sexual harassment, Michelle Mishoe Miller highlights the future impact of each upcoming law on the workplace.
July 19, 2021
Jamila Brinson and Jackie Staple Receive Board Certification in Labor and Employment Law
Jackson Walker proudly congratulates Jamila Brinson and Jackie Staple on becoming Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Only 643 attorneys in Texas are Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law—11 of whom are Jackson Walker attorneys.
July 12, 2021
Changes on the Horizon: Major Revisions to Texas Sexual Harassment Laws
By Michelle Miller
Effective September 1, 2021, laws pertaining to sexual harassment in Texas will be significantly expanded and redefined. This article highlights three bills signed into law that will expand protections to small business employees, extend the deadline for filing a charge, and ban settling sexual harassment claims with public funds.
- Provide culture assessments to identify DEI gaps in the workplace, and develop recommendations to address shortcomings
- Provide counsel on legally compliant methods to obtain employee identification data needed to assess diversity metrics
- Provide counsel on the development of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action plans
- Design and facilitate customized DEI trainings and presentations, such as the impact of unconscious bias in performance reviews
- Develop company policies and procedures that integrate DEI best practices and ensure legal compliance with employment workplace laws
- Provide immigration counsel for the creation of DEI recruitment, retention and promotion strategies geared toward companies employing foreign nationals to ensure compliance with immigration laws and regulations
- Advise community boards on effective strategies to increase diversity of board membership
- Assist in the development of employee resource groups, which are groups that provide opportunities for employees of similar race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or abilities to formally gather for social and professional development
- Keep clients up-to-date on changes in employment laws and regulations impacting DEI in the workplace, and how those changes may impact employer DEI efforts
In addition, our attorneys are involved in the following DEI initiatives in the legal profession as well as in the community:
- Designed and developed DiversePro, a community-focused lawyer directory that makes it easier for individual and business clients to find diverse lawyers with a specific culture, language, or life experience
- Serve as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Asian American Bar Association, and in that role, provide support for the development of programming through the Association’s D&I subcommittee, which is aimed at providing opportunities for Asian American lawyers to be educated on cultural issues in the workplace
- Co-founder of the Coalition of Houston Diverse Bar Associations (“Coalition”). The Coalition is comprised of the seven Houston area minority bar groups. Its mission is to advance diversity in the legal profession by increasing dialogue and interaction among bar associations; identifying areas of common concern and shared goals; creating and implementing initiatives to address common concerns and to achieve shared goals; sharing best practices and resources in bar association programming; and building shared platforms
- Led efforts to develop strategies, policies, and practices to help increase diversity of federal judges on the Houston federal bench
- Spearheaded effort to identify diversity and inclusion gaps in Houston Bar Association programming and developed recommendation to increase diversity
- Developed and recommended programming to increase diversity among membership and participation within the Houston Young Lawyers Foundation
- Chair the board of the West Orem Family YMCA, which is focused on serving the needs of a predominately Black and Latino under-resourced community through equitable programming and services