Realizing the value of making your law firm more inclusive is one thing. Implementing the idea is another. What practical steps can you take to ensure everyone on your team is treated fairly, and just as importantly, feels appreciated and valued? Let’s discuss some ideas.
Involve Your Team
One of the best ways to know whether people feel included or excluded is simply to ask them how they feel. Consider having a heart-to-heart meeting with your team, one in which all opinions are welcomed without fear of reprisal. Get their honest feedback and encourage open conversations on the topic. You might be surprised to find some “blind spots” where you were unaware someone felt excluded. It probably won’t be a comfortable discussion, but it will give you a good idea of what areas need improvement.
But don’t stop there. Once you’ve opened up the conversation, invite your team to recommend meaningful solutions—to become part of the healing process. By letting them take a sense of ownership in the solution, you’ve already taken a huge step toward greater inclusivity, and you’ll feel it in the team morale.
Schedule an “Inclusion Audit”
In many cases, “we don’t know what we don’t know,” and sometimes even your team members won’t be able to recognize or verbalize instances of exclusion. For this reason, consider hiring a third-party consulting firm to conduct an “inclusion audit” of your law firm. Bringing in a set of expert eyes and ears, someone who knows what to look for, will help you identify possible problem areas, and even instances of non-compliance, so you know what to work on.
Check In, and Check In Again
Building inclusivity isn’t a one-time, set-it-and-forget-it effort. Old habits die hard. You can’t become more inclusive by addressing the question one time—at best, you’ll experience some temporary improvement that way. Once you know where to improve, begin implementing new policies, then keep revisiting those policies to make sure they are having the intended effect.
As with anything else, the key to creating an inclusive environment is practice. By taking these steps and developing long-term habits, you’ll build a law firm that embraces a culture of inclusivity—and thrives as a result