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Diversity and Inclusion Champion: Earsa Jackson, Clark Hill Strasburger

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Jackson, a member in Clark Hill Strasburger’s Dallas office, has been diversity committee chair at the firm since 2015 and leads the franchise & distribution team. As diversity chair, Jackson oversees three core programs serving as cornerstones of the firm’s diversity efforts: Clark Hill THRIVE, emphasizing multiculturalism (she’s a committee co-chair); ClarkHill BOLD, preparing/promoting women for leadership; and ClarkHill PRIDE, supporting LGBTQ lawyers/staff. 

Jackson joined then-Strasburger & Price in 1998 after law school and over 20 years became one of the major forces behind the firm’s diversity initiatives. In 2018, when Strasburger combined with Clark Hill, Jackson saw the opportunity to expand diversity programs coast to coast and bring novel initiatives across a much larger platform with a firm sharing the same core values/culture. Thanks to Jackson’s efforts, CHS is now among the first-ever Dallas firms to participate in the nationwide Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program (DAPP), starting out with one law student in 2018 and increasing it to two in 2019. In February of this year, the firm also renewed its commitment in the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity’s (LCLD) signature professional leadership development programs, selecting two of the firm’s attorneys—one from Pittsburgh, one from Los Angeles. The firm doubled its participation in LCLD’s 1L Scholar Program by selecting two students to clerk this summer.

Jackson has also been an active leader within the Dallas Bar Association Minority Participation Committee, chairing it in 2018.  (read more)

Is Your HR Department Helping Or Hurting Your Diversity Efforts?

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When it comes to your company’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts, typically the Human Resource (HR) Department in your organization is the go-to. Because HR is normally in charge of attracting, recruiting and retaining employees within your organization, they are in a perfect position to implement D&I trainings, programs, and initiatives. When ensuring that organizational leaders are emotionally intelligent, competent and effective in their roles, it often falls back on the HR team. With so much power to impact change within an organization, HR plays a critical role in the organization’s success and sustainability. But often HR falls short in these efforts and more and more companies are finding that there is a lack of alignment between HR and effective D&I strategy. Popular media often depicts employees as having a love/hate relationship with their company’s HR department, with many employees having a certain level of mistrust toward the department. The skepticism and doubt that many have towards their HR department makes it more challenging to implement real and effectual changes. In order to assess the effectiveness of your HR department when implementing D&I efforts, it’s crucial to first understand the different ways that your HR department can actually impact positive changes as well as some of the ways that your HR department may be impeding your company’s D&I success.

  1. Lack of knowledge and understanding. HR usually plays a key role when introducing and implementing D&I programs into the workplace. There is a lot of research that indicates D&I programs are ineffective for a number of different reasons. According to Harvard Business Review, some best practices when implementing a D&I program are to “engage managers in solving the problem, increase their on-the-job contact with female and minority workers, and promote social accountability.” There may be a disconnect between current D&I practices and what is actually effective, but there is a wealth of free resources that can be used to close this gap. Employees should be aware of the mounting evidence that indicates that diversity boosts creativity and innovation, which may incentivize skeptical employees who are resistant to D&I efforts. Is HR aware that by allowing employees more opportunities to connect with their coworkers from different backgrounds, that this may elicit the contact hypothesis, which posits that increased contact with different groups can decrease prejudice and bias? HR should have a thorough understanding of the research and best practices; this is a critical part of creating an effective D&I program. (read more)

Hank Aaron still fighting for diversity in baseball

Hank Aaron

ATLANTA — When Brian Hunter and other former major league players were in the presence of Hank Aaron, they acted like teenagers, standing, pointing and trying to get pictures when he entered the room.

Someone whispered, “there he is.”

The vibe in the room quickly changed upon Aaron’s arrival at an Atlanta restaurant earlier this month to talk with 44 high school players, mostly African-Americans. The visit was part of Aaron’s ongoing efforts for more diversity in baseball.

Hunter, who has been coaching some of the players, said that the 85-year-old Hall of Famer has that effect on baseball players of all ages. The high school players in attendance had a similar impact on Aaron.

“It fills my heart, really makes me feel very proud,” Aaron said.

The players were selected to participate in the inaugural Hank Aaron Invitational exhibition game at SunTrust Park. The event, formerly called the Elite Development Invitational, was renamed for Aaronlast year.

Aaron has lobbied for efforts to encourage more young black athletes to choose baseball and he supports this diversity initiative by Major League Baseball.

Players were taken on a civil rights tour of Atlanta that included the home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the King Center and King’s former church, Ebenezer Baptist. Former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, 87, joined Aaron for a question-and-answer session with the teens.

The high school sophomores, juniors and seniors were coached by Hunter, the former first baseman with the Atlanta Braves and other teams, and other former players, including Marquis Grissom, Tom Gordon, Marvin Freeman, Michael Tucker, Jerry Royster and Ty Waller, in Vero Beach, Florida. The top 44 — Aaron’s uniform number — were selected from a field of 250 players ages 13 to 18.

The program is designed to encourage teens from diverse backgrounds to remain in the game. (read more)

CBS Chief Joe Ianniello Touts Reforms in Diversity and Inclusion Memo

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With his company poised to merge once more with fellow media conglom Viacom, CEO Joe Ianniello on Tuesday addressed CBS’ diversity and inclusion efforts.

In a company-wide memo, Ianniello touted recent hires in the news, casting, and television-stations divisions, as well growth in the company’s human-resources and diversity-and-inclusion departments. The chief executive also promised reforms to the recruiting and hiring processes, and wrote that he and Viacom head Bob Bakish — who is set to become CEO of the combined ViacomCBS once the merger is completed, with Ianniello remaining in a senior post overseeing most of the CBS operations — are working in concert on inclusion efforts.

“As you all know, we will soon be joining forces with Viacom, another company that places great importance on diversity and inclusion, and understands the value it brings to business and culture,” Ianniello wrote. “I have spoken with Bob Bakish, and we are aligned in this effort. I want you to know that in these months as we move toward the merger, we are not easing up on the pedal.” (read more)

Closer Look: Tech, Diversity and ‘Citizenship in the Modern Technopolis’ A Conversation with Dr. Kamau Bobb

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Dr. Kamau Bobb, Global Lead for Diversity Strategy and Research at Google, joins Closer Look in studio to discuss tech and equity.

Monday on “Closer Look with Rose Scott”:

  • 0:00: “Closer Look” host Rose Scott gives a news brief on Atlanta City Councilmember Cleta Winslow’s announcement that she is offering a $3,000 reward in exchange for information on the suspect who shot into a crowd attending a back to school party at the Atlanta University Center.
  • In other news, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp lead a small business roundtable in Peachtree Corners this morning.
  • Also, the city of Atlanta is holding a Mobility and Safety Town Hall meeting tonight this evening to creating safer streets.
  • 2:52: In recent years, Atlanta has earned the nickname “the Silicon Valley of the South.” But what does it mean to be a ‘tech city’? And what does Atlanta bring to the table that Silicon Valley does not? Last week, “Closer Look with Rose Scott” held conversations with industry leaders and tech workers about how Atlanta’s tech landscape has grown and its future. Today, we revisit some highlights from the series.
  • 10:00/31:37: “Closer Look’s” Tech Week series concludes with a conversation with Dr. Kamau Bobb, Global Lead for Diversity Strategy and Research at Google. Dr. Bobb, who is also the founding Senior Director of the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing at Georgia Tech, shares his vision for “citizenship in the modern technopolis” and creating a more diverse and inclusive space in STEM.

Closer Look is produced by Candace Wheeler and Grace Walker. Joy Barge is a contributing producer.

Howard University Launches New Diversity Coaching Program

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Howard University is on a mission to address diversity and inclusion issues that plague corporate America. According to Black News, the Washington, D.C.-based historically Black university has launched a new diversity and leadership training program.

The new educational initiative—dubbed the Executive Certification in Diversity Coaching (ECDC) program—is a collaborative effort between the Howard University School of Business and the CoachDiversity Institute. Through the four-month program executives from different sectors will learn how to cultivate inclusive workplaces by implementing innovative and culturally competent strategies.

The leadership team at Howard wants to use this initiative as a way to provide solutions to current workforce issues. “The Howard University School of Business is excited about our strategic partnership with CoachDiversity and the launch of the Executive Certification in Diversity Coaching program. As a global leader in business education, HUSB is not only interested in the development of world-class leaders and executives, but also in the development of skilled coaches who are equipped to support the success of diverse talent, and also lead the evolution of diversity and inclusion in the modern workplace,” said Kim R. Wells, Executive Director of Executive Education, Howard University. Programs like ECDC are needed. Spaces like tech and fashion are still lagging behind when it comes to hiring individuals from underrepresented groups.

The Howard University School of Business has gone through a lot of growth over the past few years. In 2018, the school received a $250,000 donation from Howard alumnus Wendell E. Mackey, CFA which went towards the creation of a new Bloomberg Finance Lab.

Big Tech Firms Proudly Tout Inclusion, Diversity At Silicon Valley Pride

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It started quietly as the fire engine pulled onto Market Street…there wasn’t even a siren. But that’s because Sunday’s parade wasn’t meant to force change but to show how much things have already changed.

“The people wanted to come out and show,” said Parade Coordinator Murray Wicks, “…and there was also a lot more corporate interest.”

The event changed its name from San Jose Pride to Silicon Valley Pride and the big tech firms, from Google to Oracle to Intel, were competing to show how inclusive they can be.

“It’s really good because it’s represented by all the big companies,” said spectator Barbara Sigala, “and I like that. I saw a lot of T-shirts, a lot of support.”

Protesters actually interrupted the San Francisco Pride Parade over corporate involvement, but in San Jose, they consider it a sign of progress that big companies are now proudly touting their diversity.

ALSO READ: Silicon Valley Becomes Hotbed for Employee Activism

“But I don’t think corporations, until recently, really believed it,” said Wicks. “And I think they’re started to believe it because they realized a diverse workforce is a good workforce. Everyone’s fighting for talent, especially in this valley.”

With the Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting still fresh in people’s minds, there was a strong police presence and there were long lines at the Pride Festival as bags were checked and people were checked with metal-detecting wands. But the mood seemed to be one of resolution rather than fear.

“We are here to support people,” said a marcher calling herself “Smashley.”

“We’re not here to be scared; we’re not here to back away. We’re here to celebrate love and that’s what’s important to us.”

There was a general belief that the tide of public opinion has turned in favor of gay rights and diversity in general, and that the surge of violence in society is the last desperate act of people who cannot accept that the world has changed. (read more)

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