#Talk Into Action


Have you ever attended a diversity program or conference where you found yourself looking around the room and thinking that the program was great, but the audience was the choir, that those who needed to hear it, weren’t there? If so, you’re not alone. That’s why the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (“IILP”) is inviting you to join in a new initiative: #TalkIntoAction!

The legal profession has been talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”) for decades. But if you attend most DEI programs and conferences, how much diversity will there be? DEI has been so siloed, there are few opportunities to examine the diversity within diversity, and fewer still to engage in any meaningful discussions about DEI issues across lines of difference. How often has someone at a diversity program or conference bemoaned the absence in the room of some segment(s) of the profession who ought to be part of the conversation? Too often, when we discuss DEI, we tend to do so in echo chambers. 

With that in mind, the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (“IILP”) is launching #TalkIntoAction, a challenge of sorts aimed at jumpstarting conversations about diversity and inclusion outside the echo chamber in the hope that this simple act will stimulate new synergies and opportunities for collaboration that in turn will spur ever greater action. 

#TALKINTOACTION:    

During the month of January, IILP is asking everyone who cares about seeing greater DEI to engage in a #TalkIntoAction discussion by devoting a minimum of ONE HOUR to discussing DEI issues with another professional whose diversity is different from theirs. Not sure what to discuss or how to get the conversation started? IILP has a list of simple questions to help you get started. Then, enjoy the opportunity to discuss important issues with someone who may or may not share your views. Open someone’s eyes (or have your own opened) to a different – dare we say, diverse – perspective or point of view. Share your own and learn from others’ diversity and inclusion experiences. And lay the foundation for a new relationship, perhaps even a friendship, with someone who may be a new ally for your own diversity and inclusion efforts. At the end of the conversation, either post a photo or screenshot of yourself with your discussion partner to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #TalkIntoAction OR just email your selfie/screenshot with your name and the name of your discussion partner to Jennifer Jackson at Jennifer.Jackson@theIILP.com and she’ll get it posted. Let’s see how many people are ready to move from #TalkIntoAction.

THE FINE PRINT:

WHO:  Everyone

WHAT:  Spend a minimum of one hour discussing diversity and inclusion with someone who is:

  1. A different gender/race/ethnicity/sexual orientation/gender identity/ability status;
  2. A person with whom you have never had lunch in a group of fewer than three people and whose home you have never visited; and,
  3. A person with whom you have never discussed diversity or inclusion in any detail. 

WHEN:  Anytime during the month of January

WHERE:   You can have your #TalkIntoAction discussion in the office, over lunch or dinner, for coffee or cocktails, or anyplace/anytime (including VIRTUALLY) you and your discussion partner would find comfortable and conversation-friendly

WHY:   To encourage open discussion about DEI and the building of relationships, even friendships, across lines of difference in the hope of stimulating unrecognized diversity and inclusion synergies, unrealized opportunities for DEI collaborations, and unexpected DEI alliances that will result in new, more, and greater DEI action.

HOW:  Invite someone you may not know well and who, outwardly, does not share the same diversity characteristics as you, to join you for a one-hour conversation during which the two of you will discuss diversity and inclusion. Afterwards, post a photo or screenshot of the two of you on social media – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram – with your name and the name of your discussion partner. Be sure to tag @TheIILP and use #TalkIntoAction! OR you can simply send your selfie with the same information to Jennifer Jackson at Jennifer.Jackson@theIILP.com and she’ll get it posted for you. Feel free to repeat.

GROUND RULES FOR #TALKINTOACTION DISCUSSIONS:

  • Both discussants should be prepared to be open and honest about their perspectives, opinions, and experiences.
  • Both discussants should treat each other and each other’s perspectives, opinions, and experiences with respect, civility, and professional courtesy.
  •  At the outset, the discussants should review these ground rules and agree to abide by them. They may also mutually agree to the topics they would like to address.
  • #TalkIntoAction discussions are just that: discussions. They are not debates. They are not arguments. They are not “gotcha” moments. The objective is not to change the other person or display “superior” familiarity or knowledge, but for both participants to critically examine their own views, perspectives, and opinions by learning from the other’s.
  •  Be prepared to agree to disagree. If the discussion becomes too heated, be prepared to explain that in the interest of civility, the discussion must be cut short and either switch to another topic, or one or the other participant should be able to leave.
  • At the end of the discussion, summarize what you and your discussion partner learned and thank your partner.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

1.  Who’s eligible to participate?

Everyone and anyone can participate in #TalkIntoAction.

2.  Can we do this as a group?

Later, small group discussions may be permitted but for now, we think it is important to have one-on-one conversations without the added complication of small group dynamics.

3.  May we have more than one #TalkIntoAction discussion?

You may have as many as you like, and you may have more than one with the same #TalkIntoAction partner.

4.  May we discuss our #TalkIntoAction discussion with others?

You may discuss the fact that you participated in a #TalkIntoAction discussion but otherwise Chatham House Rules apply: you may discuss the general substance of what you learned but you may not attribute specific statements, opinions, or attitudes to your discussion partner without their explicit or specific permission. This is about discussion outside the echo chamber. Its purpose is to begin to establish a foundation of openness, and even trust, upon which we hope you’ll build an ongoing relationship in which you can discuss DEI with someone you don’t already know well and with whom you otherwise might never discuss diversity and inclusion.

5.  What if the person I ask refuses to participate.

Hopefully, they won’t, but if they do, understand that not everyone is comfortable sharing their thoughts, views, perspectives on, or experiences with, DEI. If someone declines your invitation, we hope that you’ll accept that declination respectfully and graciously.

6.  What if my #TalkIntoAction partner and I have serious disagreements about DEI. 

It’s entirely possible that you and your discussion partner will have different views on DEI. But these are intended to be discussions on a professional level. They are neither a debate nor an argument. Treat your discussion partner with respect, civility, and professional courtesy. Be prepared to agree to disagree.

POSSIBLE TOPICS FOR TALK INTO ACTION DISCUSSIONS:

  • What has prevented the legal profession from making more progress in becoming more diverse, equitable, and inclusive?
  • What are constructive things that we, as individuals, can do to move the DEI needle in the legal profession?
  • What is one thing that a law firm/corporate law department/government agency/bar association/other could do to enhance DEI efforts in a meaningful way?
  • How can we become more mindful and self-aware of our own implicit biases as they relate to diversity and inclusion?
  • What are the best ways to educate/sensitize/engage people about the DEI challenges and concerns beyond their own type of diversity?

If you have any additional questions about participating in #TalkIntoAction, please contact Jennifer.Jackson@theIILP.com.

   
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