There was no need for morning coffee when Tanya M. Odom, Director of Innovation and Social Media and Executive Coach, from The FutureWork Institute had enough passion and energy to wake up a whole room full of NALP and ALFDP members, diversity professionals, law firm partners, in-house lawyers, law students and other legal career professionals who gathered on Friday, June 7, 2013 for the eight annual Diversity & Inclusion Summit a the Mid-America Club in Chicago.
The view from the 80th floor wasn’t the only thing that was impressive. Tanya’s presentation on “FutureCo 2022: What Does the Future Hold?” was insightful and the perfect way to start a Friday morning. She encouraged the coward to tweet as she spoke on the importance of the virtual world and how technology and social media has changed our lives—herself included, comparing not having Wi-Fi access on an airplane to losing the oxygen to breathe.
Technology will dramatically change the future of law firms and force more companies to live in a culture of innovation. Tanya wanted to make sure the audience understood we are connected in a world of web whether we like it or not. It will influence how we’ll meet because the new workplace is anywhere. The way we work, learn, and live is changing for law firms and legal employers. The future is not someplace we are going to but one we are creating, says Tanya. This is where we will look for innovations, creativity and leadership. Instead of fighting it, let’s embrace it.
Other thought-provoking sessions and speakers followed throughout the day. Some of the many sessions are as followed.
Asad Rizvi and Darlene Slaughter spoke about “Faiths and Cultures in the Workplace”. Asad, Assistant Corporation Counsel in the New York City Law Department, Labor and Employment Law Division, brought up important factors to consider and best practices for eradicating religious discrimination in the workplace. Being a Board Member of the Muslim Bar Association of New York, he shared valuable information on how to modify workplace practice policies and procedures such as allowing employees time and space for prayer and meditation.
Darlene, Former Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, from Fannie Mae shared her experience practicing Ramadan for 30 days as a non-Muslim. In the end she was able to tell people about the tradition because she put her shoes in the place of someone else, which opened her eyes on how much food is in our culture, especially in the workplace and social events.
Anna Brown & Theresa Cropper presented on “Diversity 101: How to Start a Diversity & Inclusion Program in Your Organization”. They spoke about goals in recruiting, adding value to your work, understanding the dynamics, and building a relationship. Diversity defines success and it’s important to know how to define your own success, says Theresa. Creating a one-on-one relationship with people brings quality in investments and ideas. Anna works as a Special Attorney/Global Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Shearman & Sterling LLP. Theresa Cropper is the Chief Diversity Officer for Perkins Coie LLP.
Many out-of-town and in-town attendees were intrigued, focused on taking notes and asked questions after each presentation as well as participated in a discussion session covering key topics in diversity and more.
Robert Nelson, Director of the American Bar Foundation, provided statistics on minorities in law school and in the legal profession.
The day ended strong with Howard Ross, the Founder and Chief Learning Officer of Cook Ross and one of the nation’s leading diversity training consultants. He presented on “Reinventing Diversity” and encouraged the audience to think twice about their actions and what they really see and hear. Learn more in his book, Reinventing Diversity: Transforming Organizational Community to Strengthen People, Purpose, and Performance. The event was sponsored by NALP, ALFDP, and Vault.
By: Priya Shah