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Diversity Champion Award Criteria
Overall, this award recognizes individuals who champion the ideals embodied in the New York City Bar Association’s Statement of Diversity Principles—“facilitate diversity in the hiring, retention and promotion of attorneys and in the elevation of attorneys to leadership positions within our respective organizations.” To that end, we will assess a nominee’s excellence in one or more of the following areas:
1. Influencing Others
Successful diversity efforts have champions who galvanize the importance of diversity at every possible opportunity. Diversity champions can exert influence, not necessarily because of their titles, but by making a persuasive connection between organizational performance and progress on diversity.
2. Being a Role Model
Champions “talk the talk and walk the walk.” It is not just what champions say, it is how they act that signals whether diversity is truly important to the organization. For example, champions can demonstrate that mentoring is valued by personally mentoring someone from a different background. In addition, it is a powerful communication tool when champions discuss openly and honestly how they manage their professional and personal lives.
3. Continually Learning
To be an effective champion, it is important to understand the challenges faced by different groups in the profession. These challenges and the barriers they can present often unintentionally go unnoticed by members of a majority group who have never experienced being an outsider in their profession. A diversity champion regularly reaches out to a diverse array of attorneys to understand first-hand the experiences of someone from a different background.
4. Cultivating Diverse Teams
Whether staffing teams internally or externally, diversity champions seek out diverse talent in its many forms. Diversity champions place a premium on good management, both for themselves and others. They strive to develop and retain their diverse team members, by mentoring, coaching, and providing constructive feedback.
5. Innovating and Taking Risks
In order to make diversity a reality, creative and practical solutions must be identified and implemented. Diversity champions believe change is possible and see opportunities where others see obstacles. For example, a champion could spearhead the creation of an affinity group or a pilot flexible work program in one department in order to assess effectiveness and build the case for broader implementation.
6. Holding Yourself and Others Accountable for Diversity
Accountability is an evolutionary process beginning with systematically making the case that diversity is beneficial to the organization and individual’s bottom-line. When individuals are not participating, diversity champions can use their personal influence to encourage others to take action. As clients, champions can identify ways to meaningfully foster diversity in their outside counsel, such as through the RFP process and ensuring inquiries regarding diversity efforts and achievements of outside counsel.
7. External Leadership Involvement
On its own or in conjunction with internal activities, diversity champions can take an active role in fostering diversity in the profession. Individuals may take an active role in minority bar associations or in diversity committees in local or national bars. Diversity champions can also forge connections with law schools, colleges, high schools, and other organizations in order to broaden the diversity pipeline. Pro bono activities are another important way in which individuals may have an impact on diversity within the profession and society in general.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should we nominate?
Attorneys: Nominations are limited to attorneys, having graduated from law school no less than 8 years, although they need not be actively practicing law.
Time period: While our emphasis is on actions taken within the last year, we recognize that it may be difficult to isolate certain achievements within a calendar year. Notable achievements from the past or that occur on an ongoing basis may be included as well.
Level: It is important to recognize that leaders can be found throughout any organization, and successful diversity efforts empower and cultivate champions at all levels. In addition, we encourage nominations from a range of positions, from diversity professionals to practicing attorneys with no direct responsibility for diversity efforts.
Internal or External: Nominations can come from within or outside the organization. Individuals are eligible in connection with their efforts to increase diversity within their own employer as well as outside the organization, such as bar association initiatives or nonprofit organization.
Type of Employer: Diversity champions can hail from any sector of the legal profession—government, firm, corporation, academia, or non-profit. To that end, individuals do not need to be employed by signatories of the statement of diversity principles to be eligible.
Number of Nominations: Individuals and organizations may nominate multiple individuals on separate nomination forms.
When are nominations due? The final day submissions will be accepted is Friday, July 31, 2020.
What is the process for selecting the winners? The Office for Diversity & Inclusion of the New York City Bar Association has established the criteria listed on the next page. A panel of Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award Committee members representing a cross-section of legal employers will be convened, ensuring that there are no conflicts. Interviews will be conducted with finalists and their references in August and September 2020. The Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award Committee will then contact winners.
Inquiries can be directed to:
Manager, Office of Diversity and Inclusion
New York City Bar Association
Key Dates: Please be advised that finalists and their references are expected to be available for interviews in August and September and to attend the virtual Diversity Champion Award Dinner on October 8, 2020 to accept the award.
• Nomination submission deadline (Friday, July 31, 2020)
• Interviews with finalists and references (August/September 2020)
• Virtual Awards Dinner (October 8, 2020)