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December 09, 2019

Fall 2019 Meeting Recap

Under Construction Editors

Thank you to everyone who attended the historic Fall Meeting in Philadelphia, “Building a Better Construction Industry through Inclusion, Diversity, & Professionalism.” If you were unable to join us, here are some photos from this groundbreaking program: 

Watch the highlights of the Forum on Construction Fall 2019 Meeting.

Special thanks to our Program Team, Co-Chairs, Kristen Sherwin of Winstead PC in Dallas, TX, and Danny Jarrett of Jackson Lewis PC in Albuquerque NM; Governing Committee Liaison Cathy Lilford Altman of Carrington Coleman in Dallas, TX; and Marketing Liaisons, Michael Lane of Riess LeMieux in New Orleans, LA, and Mary Jay Torres Martin from Philadelphia, PA.

The Forum is pleased to announce that 418 people attended the first ABA program devoted exclusively to diversity, inclusion, and professionalism. This program was historic not only because of the content, but because of the diversity of its attendees. Of the 418 attendees, 127 were women (30%), and roughly 25% were members of a minority group (ethnic/racial minority, disabled lawyers, members of LGBTQ community). In addition, we accomplished our goal for outreach by drawing new attendees from outside the Forum, as 13 attendees were members of the ABA who were not Forum members, 66 were non-ABA members, and 21 were first-time and/or young lawyer attendees.

The Fall Meeting was also historic because of the support that the content inspired. The Forum thanks the following ABA entities who worked with us and/or co-sponsored this program: The ABA Center for Diversity & Inclusion; the Commission on Women in the Profession; the Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice; the Commission on Disability Rights; the Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities; the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession; the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity; and the Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline. Never before has the Forum received this level of collaboration and support. Thank you so much.

Program highlights included:

  • An enlightening presentation by nationally-renowned speaker, Kathleen Nalty, about unconscious bias, techniques for identifying personal bias as well as systemic issues, and how to mitigate the effects of implicit bias.
  • A panel of leaders from the national ACEC, AGC, AIA, and ABA who took a candid assessment of progress that the industry and professions have made on diversity and inclusion, addressed what needs to be done to improve that environment, and forecast the risks and issues we will encounter related to the lack of diversity and inclusion in the profession. 
  • A discussion of how to identify unique issues related to respect and professionalism in the workplace and ways in which inclusion and professionalism can assist companies in the construction industry to mitigate risk on the jobsite and in the office.
  • A plenary that addressed the rapidly changing area of gender equity in pay and fascinating local trends related to “Fair Pay for Women” statutes and local ordinances.
  • A panel discussing lessons M/W/DBE compliance requirements, recruitment of qualified M/W/DBEs, challenges of meeting M/W/DBE requirements, and how the use of joint ventures and other affiliations can create a mutually beneficial relationship on projects. 
  • An eye-opening plenary by national author, Lauren Stiller Rikleen, about stereotypes of people categorized as Millennials, Generation Y, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation, and how to overcome those stereotypes/barriers and generational issues in the workplace from a thoughtful and research-based perspective. 
  • A discussion of how identity and cultural background impact leadership and decision- making, including strategies for breaking down cultural barriers that potentially serve as obstacles in the industry.
  • The ethics and professionalism Practicum presented by Division 1 and the Young Lawyers Division that covered ethics in advocacy, challenges of advocacy in the #metoo movement, and how attorney wellness is an ethical practice issue. 
  • An interactive lunch program of structured roundtable discussions that allowed attendees to personally explore a better understanding of the value of inclusion at a personal level, uncover biases toward people who do not share the same social identities, self-evaluate inclusive efforts to date, and identify specific action item the person could take at the meeting to improve inclusion.

Forum divisions and sponsors also came together to put on several special events:

  • Welcome reception at the Reading Terminal Market.
  • Women’s networking event attended by more than a hundred Forum members.
  • “Night at the Alley” bowling event at Lucky Strike Bowling Alley sponsored by HKA.
  • Tour of the $1.5 billion University of Pennsylvania Hospital construction.
  • Guided tour of historic Philadelphia, including the site of the Liberty Bell, the first Continental Congress, Carpenters’ Hall, the Museum of the American Revolution, and City Tavern.
  • Guided tour of Valley Forge, PA, General George Washington’s winter camp.

And last but certainly not least, program attendees generously donated $3,367.00 for Philabundance, the largest hunger relief organization in the Delaware Valley, serving over 90,000 people a week.  In the last 23 meetings, the Forum has donated over $96,000 to local causes in our venue cities. Our sincere thanks to Forum Member Daniel Goldberg who founded this Forum tradition.  Our goal for the Mid-Winter meeting is to reach $100,000. 

We look forward to seeing you again in Tucson for the Mid-Winter Meeting, January 22-24, 2020, where we will learn about risk and risk management in the new decade!

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