History Is Today: Resist Check-The-Box Approaches To Diversity

Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP
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Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear we are living at the crossroads of a historical moment; at the precipice of a time where the political, social, economic, technological, and cultural fabric of society is being bluntly examined and challenged. We the people, our businesses, and communities can no longer simply ignore the lack of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within our institutions. As a US Business in 2021, we are in a unique position to hold transformative power to change and contribute to a more open, diverse, and inclusive workplace and society.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion has been an important topic for many businesses and communities, but the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the world-wide protests in the wake of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and others are shining a new and resounding light on these issues.

Thirty years ago, in the blush of my twenties, I remember thinking the same. I watched the infamous grainy video (no iPhones then!) of the brutal beating of Rodney King and remember thinking how can this be happing in 1992?

The facts were all too familiar, King had been driving, there was a police chase, King finally surrendered but resisted arrest. He was unarmed, intoxicated and unable to protect himself from the flurry of nightstick blows and kicks to his head and body by four police officers. He was beaten, but survived.

The live verdict in the trial against the four police officers was a historical moment. I can remember feeling nervous, worried and transfixed. But, then all were acquitted and unprecedented violence erupted in LA. Fast forward to 2020, and scenes of burning buildings, anger, and frustration was like a deja vu moment. I remember thinking – how is this happening in 2020?

This time the police officer was found guilty on all counts. That certainly felt like justice, and progress. But before we can sit, reflect, and revel in the moment, there was another unarmed black man shot, and another, and another…

I am hopeful, though. We have a unique opportunity to stand out and come together, but to do so, we must move beyond a representational, quota-driven, check-the-box approach to diversity. We must break the mold and embrace a more inclusive approach driven by accountability at all organizational levels. And, as we individually do that in workplaces, our communities will not only reflect our values, but together we can move beyond where we are today.

I want to believe that in 30 years from now, my son or daughter or you, will not be contemplating whether history mostly repeats itself but rather, knowing unequivocally we all did our part and things are actually different.

As we continue to look at issues of racial inequality, social justice, and the array of diversity and inclusion issues, we hope to share our varied perspectives in real time, so we can learn and grow-together. And, one day (soon) when we look back at our older blog posts, we will see the arc of progress and marvel on how far we have come.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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