CLM’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee recently collaborated with the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations (NCWBA) to bring a unique and cutting-edge diversity program to CLM’s membership: GOOD Guys.
Guys Overcoming Obstacles to Diversity (GOOD), a groundbreaking model program being replicated across the country, aims to involve more men in diversity and inclusion efforts. During a recent CLM webinar, moderator Misty Blair, intellectual property counsel for Kaneka Americas Holding Inc., and GOOD Guys Bill Garcia, assistant vice president and outside counsel manager for Liberty Mutual, and Bill Sailer, senior vice president and legal counsel for Qualcomm Inc., described how GOOD Guys are needed to address diversity and inclusion efforts given the current impasse in advancing more women and diverse professionals to the highest levels of law firms and corporations.
The basics of the GOOD Guys program include the following key components:
• GOOD Guys receive an award. Each male invitee is given a ribbon identifying him as a GOOD Guy, and all GOOD Guys present are honored for their efforts.
• Top-level men who other men want to know and emulate are featured. The program includes a panel presentation with local, prominent GOOD Guys (and a GOOD Gal or two) who discuss why they care about diversity and inclusion, and why other guys should care.
• Speakers discuss the financial rewards of diversity and inclusion. The program includes a presentation about the eye-popping value in diversifying firms and companies at the highest levels of management and ownership.
• Implicit bias training is given in a straightforward and non-judgmental environment. GOOD Guys programs include a presentation about bias disrupters, with practical information about what guys can do right now to disrupt bias.
In the CLM webinar presentation, Sailer discussed what it meant to be a GOOD Guy. GOOD Guys ensure that every part of an organization is hitting on all cylinders and all people are contributing to diversity efforts as much as they can. Lack of understanding about implicit bias can prevent all employees from being engaged at the highest levels.
Research is clear that diverse teams are more productive than non-diverse teams, even where non-diverse teams may, on paper, appear smarter. Being a GOOD Guy involves understanding these issues and ensuring that each member of the team feels included and supported.
According to Garcia, the best diversity and inclusion efforts are driven from the top of companies. At Liberty Mutual, the women’s affinity group includes not just women, but also male allies because groups cannot accomplish as much without involvement of both women and men. Garcia added that just joining diversity groups does not help much; men must get actively involved.
Sailer pointed out that an attitude holding companies back is a belief that meritocratic companies are fair and do not need to do further work on diversity and inclusion. In fact, the literature is clear that meritocracies are not fair for a variety of reasons. Training on implicit bias is key. Implicit bias training takes the blame out of the discussion because bias is human nature.
Another problem that holds companies back is the attitude that the presence of a few successful women or diverse professionals in an organization means diversity and inclusion efforts are no longer required. Diversity and inclusion must be addressed continuously.
To help GOOD Guys get started right away, the program provides a “Monday Morning To-Do List,” with top tips about what GOOD Guys (and Gals) can do right now to reap the rewards of diversity and inclusion.
Assess your firm, company, or organization in diversity terms. Take this quick test—identify the core leadership group in your firm, company, or organization. Include the top three layers of leadership, if there are multiple layers. For example, the core leadership group of a company may be the executive officers, and another layer may be the management team. How diverse is each layer? If percentages are less than 50 percent female or 50 percent diverse, perhaps there is work to be done. To take this assessment a step further, assess where the real power lies in your firm, company, or organization and determine how diversity success can be measured there. For example, private firms may ask not only how many women are equity owners, but also how much equity women own. Such profound information reveals true levels of inclusion.
Assess your own implicit associations (i.e., associating men with careers and women with family). An important step in ensuring that our implicit associations do not affect our decision-making is finding out what our personal implicit associations actually are.
Identifying bias interrupters that individuals can try. Have you ever been in a meeting when a woman makes a suggestion, only to have a man get the credit for it? Learn to identify patterns of bias like these and disrupt it. Organizations like Women’s Leadership Edge can help.
Learn about the challenges facing women and diverse professionals. Join a women’s or diversity organization and get involved. Assess your zone of influence. Areas where you can advance a diverse professional include hiring employees, hiring outside vendors, promoting, and more. You can have a major impact by hiring diverse professionals as vendors as well as internally. Diverse professionals can be experts, suppliers, lawyers, and more. Look for opportunities to do business with diverse professionals. Also, help create the next chapter of getting guys involved in diversity and inclusion by getting involved with GOOD Guys.
During the CLM webinar, Garcia shared that he cares about diversity and inclusion because he is the child of immigrants—literally the janitor’s kid. He described how he never would have attained his position if the net had not been cast wide to give him his opportunities. He encouraged male leadership to make sure to do the same for others.
Sailer observed that he is an “old white guy,” and is acutely aware that there is an advantage that people like him have had, and there is good to be achieved by involving everyone. Businesses become better when they are diverse from the bottom to the top, and we all become better with diversity, because diversity challenges us.