This year, our Firm is hosting a series of candid conversations about race, with a particular focus on Black talent. "As we set the focus for 2020, the last year of our diversity and inclusion five-year strategic plan, many in leadership agreed we needed to push past our comfort zones," explains Maja Hazell, the Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion. "We knew we needed to commit to having courageous conversations about race and racial differences in order to foster a culture of belonging, as we aim for everyone to feel truly welcome here and thrive."
These important conversations to educate ourselves and foster change included presentations by Dr. Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. ("A Third American Founding: Race and the Future of Our Country"), Professor Deborah N. Archer ("155 Years since the end of American Slavery: Global Reflections on Juneteenth"), Dr. Robert Rodriguez ("Latino Identity in the Workplace: Afro-Latinx and Multidimensionality") and others. Their presentations commemorated US Black History Month, the Firm’s Juneteenth observance, and Hispanic Heritage Month in our Americas offices, respectively.
Recently in our series, Dr. Robin DiAngelo, author of the book "White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism," joined us. Dr. DiAngelo led a discussion with our Vice Chair, David Koschik, on re-defining racism and the responsibility of White people to address racial inequality, including reflections from our Chair, Hugh Verrier, and Chair of our Global Diversity Committee, Arlene Arin Hahn. Dr. DiAngelo’s timely remarks came more than a year after our Global, US and London Diversity Committees read her book on the topic.
In October 2020, Dr. Robert Rodriguez described the workplace challenges that Hispanic and Latinx professionals confront. He also explained how many in the community experience an intersecting sense of self where race, ethnicity and other factors combine in different ways. For example, someone might view their true, authentic self as "Afro-Latina" and several other dimensions of identity.
As events during 2020 have led to urgent demands and accelerated action for racial and social justice worldwide, White & Case is implementing initiatives across our global offices to encourage short-term progress, as well as longer-term initiatives aimed at transformative change.
We recognize the existence of structural and systemic racism, and we are committed to examining and challenging it, particularly where change requires us to work past our discomfort.
We promise to continue engaging in challenging, important and thought-provoking conversations. These include plans to discuss foundational challenges with Nikole Hannah-Jones (“The 1619 project: Understanding how slavery shaped America”) and other topics related to anti-racism and allyship in the coming months. We know that true progress will not happen without honest, open and courageous conversations.