Implementing a Model Diversity Plan
By Georgene Louis
Georgene Louis is an assistant editor of The Affiliate and the state gaming representative for the New Mexico Gaming Control Board in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division has long recognized that a large part of its success depends on the diversity of its membership. To provide a written commitment to address and promote diversity within the ABA YLD and to assist its affiliates in upholding this commitment, the ABA YLD created a model diversity plan. At the Young Bar Leaders Summit during the 2007 ABA YLD Fall Conference, Diversity Director C. Erica White presented a session on “Developing a Model Diversity Plan” to guide young lawyer organizations in creating their own diversity plans. See www.abanet.org/yld/DevelopingaModelDiversityPlan.pdf. After your organization has created its diversity plan, however, there is still work to be done—implementation.
After the development of a diversity plan, implementation of the plan is the single most important factor to ensure that your association preserves and encourages diversity. A model diversity plan should include measurable milestones and ensure accountability. Here are six helpful suggestions for implementing your plan:
1. Acknowledge and Promote Your Diversity Plan. The most important component to implementing a diversity plan is to increase awareness of the plan. Regular reflection on the plan’s content, including revisiting its purpose and goals, will encourage association members to be aware of the plan and be more involved in executing the plan. Leadership should promote the plan as often as they can so that the document is not just another piece of paper; rather the diversity plan should be a lively and ongoing activity.
2. Monitor and Report Milestones. An organization’s progress in promoting diversity can be measured by looking at the benchmarks set forth in the diversity plan. Association meetings should include a report by the diversity team or council as a regular agenda item. The team or council should calendar actual standards and goals that were scheduled to occur and report on the status of each goal, including whether goals were accomplished, whether target dates were met, and what follow-up actions need to occur for the association to successfully and continually implement its diversity plan.
3. Provide Training and Education on Diversity Issues. If education and training are not already part of your organization’s diversity plan, it is important to include them so that your membership understands that your association is committed to addressing diversity issues, not only in writing but also in action. Many new and current members may not be aware of the various diversity issues that exist in a community and the legal ramifications that accompany them. Training and educational activities are also a good time to explain how members can assist in implementing the goals of the diversity plan.
4. Obtain Feedback. Survey your membersto determine whether they feel that the diversity goals are being met and what improvements, if any, need to be considered. Request information from new members about whether the objectives of the diversity plan were conveyed to them and whether the organization’s method of addressing diversity was a reason they chose to join the association. There is no need to worry if your membership does not report good news—it is better to know what improvements need to be made than to misconstrue the situation.
5. Review Goals and Reconfirm Commitment. Require at least an annual review of the organization’s diversity plan. Continuous review of your organization’s mission and goals will show commitment to a living document. If changes need to be made, you can revise and update your diversity plan regularly. An updated diversity plan reconfirms your organization’s commitment to addressing diversity.
6. Celebrate and Recognize Accomplishments. Create and maintain a record of accomplishments, whether that consists of increased membership, training and educational diversity programs, or career and life promotions of diverse members. Recognition can be achieved through newsletters, reports, or actual celebrations to bring the membership together in the spirit of teamwork and victory.
Remember, developing a model diversity plan means more than putting words to paper. Your organization will more fully appreciate the efforts made by leadership if you strive to implement the plan and continue to take a proactive approach to addressing such important issues.
  For More Information . . .
The ABA YLD Diversity Plan is available online at www.abanet.org/yld/diversityplan.pdf.
Diversity: The Next Generation Summit—April 19, 2008: As part of the 2008 ABA YLD Spring Conference in Washington, D.C., the ABA YLD’s Diversity Summit will provide a forum for attendees to exchange ideas on how young lawyers can ensure that the legal profession reflects the society that it serves and fosters an environment of inclusion. Visit the 2008 ABA YLD Spring Conference website at www.abanet.org/yld/spring08 for more information.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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