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.
October 16, 2023
Suzan Kedron and Chad Cole to Discuss the Future of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace at FutureCast 2023 Conference
Jackson Walker partner L. Suzan Kedron and Social Impact & Sustainability Manager Chad Cole are scheduled to present at the award-winning diversity & inclusion event, FutureCast 2023, on Friday, October 20, 2023. Additionally, Suzan will be honored with The Champion Award as an Inaugural Honoree.
October 10, 2023
Jackson Walker proudly announces our achievement of Mansfield Rule Certification status. Our firm is one of more than 240 law firms that successfully completed Diversity Lab’s Mansfield Rule 2022-2023 Certification Program, which ran from July 2022 to July 2023. Launched by Diversity Lab in 2017, the Mansfield Rule was designed to improve diversity within law firm and legal department leadership.
August 15, 2023
By Dawn S. Holiday
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) was signed into law by President Biden on December 29, 2022, and became effective on June 27, 2023. The PWFA requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide “reasonable accommodations” for a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship.
June 22, 2023
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to Take Effect June 27, 2023, Following the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act
With the “PUMP Act” (Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act) already in effect and the “PWFA” (Pregnant Workers Fairness Act) taking effect on June 27, 2023, is your company in compliance with these big changes? As background, the PUMP Act and PWFA were adopted when President Biden signed the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2022.
By Jackie C. Staple
March 23, 2023
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
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.
March 30, 2023
What’s in an Emoji? How Generational Differences in Communication Impact the Workplace and Can Increase Liability
By Baker Howry, Shannon Wright, and Jamila Brinson
To meme or not to meme, that is the question. With millennials comprising 35% of the workforce and Gen Z expected to reach 30% by 2030, the use of emojis, emoticons, and memes in the workplace is inevitable. This article provides an overview of what emojis mean for employers, including the potential for miscommunication, how courts have analyzed them, and key considerations for risk management.
February 14, 2023
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
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
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.
- 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