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MARCH 2015 - President's Message
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President's Message - MARCH

Jennifer Romano
WLALA President 2014-2015

In my role as President of WLALA and my several years on the WLALA Board, I frequently think about diversity in the legal profession and discuss the topic with others.  We often discuss the number of women in senior roles in private practice, corporations and the public sector.  We talk about the modest improvements we are seeing (at least in some environments) and the reasons why we are not where we would like to be with respect to diversity.  In my remarks at the WLALA Installation dinner last September, I spoke about the concept of sponsorship, and how women can invest in each other so that more of us can reach the highest levels of an organization. 

In the last month, I read Moving Diversity Forward and its companion piece What If I Say the Wrong Thing?, by Verná A. Myers.  These books made me think about another angle to diversity.  Ms. Myers speaks not just about diversity, but inclusion as well, and how to obtain and retain diversity through inclusion. 

Ms. Myers’ explanation of the distinction between “diversity” and “inclusion” is easy to remember:  “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”  The numbers are important of course – with greater numbers surely more people will be included.  But, what are we doing with the diverse talent we have?  Are we finding them the opportunities to grow as attorneys?  Do they feel able to come to work as themselves without feeling the need to hide the characteristics that make them diverse in the first place?  Are they getting both the compliments and the constructive criticism to help them grow as attorneys. 

As we celebrate Women’s History Month in March, let’s think about how we can make the best of our diversity through a focus on inclusion of our young women and diverse lawyers.  Let’s make sure they are being asked to do the challenging assignments, asked to take a speaking role with the client, and asked to make the argument in court.  Let’s give them the praise when they demonstrate excellence and give them suggestions on how to do even better next time.  Let’s also show our diverse talent what a satisfying career in the law can look like.  The best way to retain talent is to provide the opportunity for a satisfying career.

And, we also invite you to attend a celebration of Women’s History Month with the major women bar associations in Los Angeles. On March 12,  WLALA, the Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance, the Latina Lawyers Bar Association, the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and California Women Lawyers will co-host a reception at Taix Restaurant, from 6-8 p.m., to celebrate the accomplishments of women.  To register, click here.  We hope to see you there or at one of the many other WLALA events in March!