DIVERSITY INITIATIVE OF THE WICHITA BAR ASSOCIATION
In 2006, the Managing Partners Committee of the Wichita Bar Association implemented an Initiative in the form of an action plan to promote diversity in the Wichita legal community for recruiting and retaining under-represented groups in Wichita firms as associates, partners and staff.
These efforts have yielded progress, but more work remains to be done and we, the Member Firms, wish to recommit ourselves to be more inclusive. We renew our commitment to diversity, including without limitation diversity of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, age and veteran status, in our legal community. We will focus our efforts on education, recruitment and retention by implementation of best practices as identified by our Member Firms. While best practices are firm specific and up to each firm, the Member Firms’ overarching commitment is to the goal of increasing diversity in under-represented groups in Wichita firms as associates, partners and staff.
The benefits of the work of the participating firms over the past decade will be enhanced and maximized only if the firms are able to maintain a culture and environment that promotes and welcomes diversity. In addition to the other action steps described in this Initiative, continuing education of all staff at Member Firms is necessary to reach this goal.
1. Firm leadership should be educated on the types of internal firm activities that can build diversity acceptance and strength throughout the firm. The commitment of firm leadership is essential to obtaining firm-wide involvement in support of the Initiative.
2. All employees of the firm should receive annual education and training designed to maintain and enhance a firm culture which welcomes and supports diversity in recruitment and retention at all levels including identifying personal and implicit bias.|
The Wichita Bar Association Professional Diversity Committee will identify sources for training and communicate with the firms on opportunities for education and training in support of the Initiative.
Member Firms should continue their significant efforts to recruit diverse legal talent.
Firms and firm cultures that promote diversity are important, as is promoting diversity in the Wichita area. Firms should encourage education of diverse legal talent, especially those with
no prior exposure to the area, regarding opportunities in the Wichita area to engage with other diverse professionals, business persons, and citizens.
The following objectives are recommended to assist Member Firms and law schools in their collective recruiting and placement efforts:
1. Invite and secure corporate involvement in the Diversity Initiative including corporate counsel in Wichita.
2. Encourage Member Firms to partner with one another to jointly host diversity events to promote the City of Wichita.
3. Encourage Member Firms to increase recruitment at regional law schools to reach more diverse students during the interview process.
Member Firms should continue to strive to increase the numbers of diverse attorneys and staff hired, and the challenge now includes the task of retaining those employees as they advance toward partnership or higher-management. Retaining diverse attorneys and staff requires that firms recognize and understand why those individuals may leave. Understanding the stressors that lead to the loss of diverse legal talent can help firms create strategies to eliminate those causes.
Retention strategies should be incorporated into the fabric and culture of the firm with a focus on retaining both new and current staff, and new and current associates as they progress toward partnership. In order to assist the Member Firms with the retention of diverse attorneys, the following objectives are recommended:
1. Each Member Firm should annually hold and promote an educational opportunity by which attorneys and staff of the Member Firm can discuss and learn about retention.
2. Each Member Firm should track attrition and retention of diverse legal talent and conduct exit interviews with each diverse employee who leaves the firm to determine the reasons therefore and report data to appropriate internal firm groups for follow-up.
3. Each Member Firm should establish its own form of mentor program to provide diverse attorneys and staff with insight into firm practices and culture, substantive work opportunities and other matters that may be relevant to job satisfaction.
4. Each Member Firm should establish its own development plan for diverse attorneys and staff to address their promotion and advancement within their respective firms.