Support LGBT diversity in your firm

by Ann Jenrette-Thomas and Kathleen Ashwill

In honor of LGBT Pride month, we wanted to share a few strategies to help your firm become more inclusive.  The American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) has provided a Guide to the Best Practices for Promoting LGBT Diversity. We’ve highlighted some of the key points within this guide to support your evolution into greater diversity within your practice or firm.

  • Network with local law schools and sponsor events which address the LGBT community.
  • Connect with LGBT community organizations, providing support either financially and/or with speakers and event ideas.
  • Keep inclusivity in mind when creating invitations to firm-wide social events (i.e. clarifying “partners” versus simply “spouses” or “husbands and wives”)
  • DiversityHighlight diversity within your website and weekly or monthly newsletter. Devote a web page to your firm’s commitment to diversity and update it regularly.
  • Encourage clients to add “gender identity/expression” to their non-discrimination policies and to support the hiring of transgendered individuals.
  • Promote expertise with addressing LGBT issues and label your firm or practice as “LGBT-friendly.”
  • Communicate the emphasis your firm places or seeks to place on LGBT diversity.
  • Encourage participation in LGBT-related conferences, such as Lavender Law.
  • Keep in mind and educate employees as to any transgendered employees’ desired pronouns.
  • Avoid a gender-specific dress code and allow employees to dress to represent their particular gender identity as they feel called.
  • Develop a Diversity Committee and include an LGBT segment within that group.
  • Be proactive in addressing discriminatory speech towards LGBT employees and uphold a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to any form of prejudice both internally and from clients.
  • Use inclusive language and provide a warm environment that supports LGBT employees.
  • If you suspect someone is LGBT, don’t assume, ask, or gossip. Make it clear you are comfortable with the LGBT population in order to offer a continued safe space to all employees.

You may access the full guide by clicking here.

In addition to the above, we at Esquire Coaching believe that it is imperative to provide all attorneys with the skills and training necessary to succeed.  That’s why we’ve created the Diverse Rainmaker program.  In this program, not only do we provide training and 1:1 coaching on essential business development skills (e.g., marketing, sales, creating content, etc.),, we address some of the unique challenges that diverse attorneys, including LGBT attorneys, face.  By taking a holistic approach and not ignoring the challenges, our program participants feel empowered and equipped to rise to their full potential.

How have you increased the emphasis on diversity and inclusion in regards to the LGBT community at your firm? Have there been any obstacles and how have you navigated them?

Share your comments below. We look forward to hearing from you and are happy to support you in cultivating a more LGBT friendly workplace.


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