Whether a tech startup or a decades-old Fortune 500 brand icon, companies today are challenged to achieve diversification and inclusion in their boardrooms and workplaces. As equity, diversity & inclusion (EDI) programs have evolved into must-haves, companies with the most effective efforts report a measurable reduction in claims of discrimination and other workplace litigation as well as an increase in employee retention. Research also points to increased productivity, innovation, and profitability when management and workforces are diverse.
“Even a 1% increase in racial diversity similarity between upper and lower management increases firm productivity by between $729 and $1590 per employee per year.
— Academy of Management Journal
At Buchalter, our labor & employment and corporate attorneys guide clients in creating and supporting effective EDI programs.
Our unique focus looks beyond the HR context to account for clients’ corporate governance, boardroom mandates, and overall legal risks and liability at every stage of the process.
To keep clients ahead of an ever-changing legal landscape, we navigate specific state and federal laws and regulations related to EDI that may impact clients’ overall inclusion plan. Instead of ad hoc trainings that merely check a box, we guide clients in building a lasting organizational infrastructure that complies with applicable law.
We have seen that when companies adopt an institutional EDI framework, workplace inclusion advances further, faster, and deeper. The outcomes are enduring progress that companies can sustain themselves and an investment in their employees’ careers that yields long-term benefits.
Customized to Clients’ Unique EDI and Business Reality
Buchalter’s Organizational Inclusion, Diversity, and Belonging Group offers a big-picture perspective and services. We are legal counselors who draw from a deep understanding of our clients’ business goals and their industries to help manage the impact of EDI programs on their overall enterprises.
We partner with people throughout the organization and create a collaborative environment. It’s how we help tailor a unique program, capable of iteration, that authentically reflects each client’s company, the needs of their people, budget pressures, and an evolving legal and regulatory climate.
Our group can also work with an existing program to ensure its success and proper incorporation within the entire business and organizational structure and risk assessments. Related services include:
Trainings can be a powerful tool, but one size does not fit all.
Buchalter works with clients to identify particular concerns and to understand the organization’s people and overall goals to tailor trainings to specific needs. Our most-requested trainings include:
- Decision-making lenses and use
- Allyship+ training and upstander support
- Trauma-informed and impact-focused analysis and training
- Role modeling training
- Unconscious bias, their impact, and remediation
Training essentials can be adapted for an entire workforce, an organization’s board, or even individual leaders.
Dispute Resolution, Audits, and Investigations
In a dynamic workplace, conflicts happen. Buchalter assists clients in providing a safe and appropriate mechanism for reporting concerns.
We investigate voiced concerns and mediate conflict and can also find pro-active solutions to avoid future conflict. Our experience with organizational and corporate investigations and reporting includes trauma-informed and impact-based analysis and resolution. A value-add of the group is ensuring that any type of dispute resolution, audit, or investigation complies with applicable legal and organizational requirements as well as specific legal needs.
Community Engagement Plans
One critical but often overlooked aspect of a successful and authentic inclusion, belonging, and diversity program is an organization’s overall community engagement. Buchalter can help find ways for clients’ teams to engage with the broader community in an authentic manner that reflects well on the organization’s mission, goals, and ethos.
We have seen how a meaningful community engagement plan is one of the best tools for both recruitment and retention.
Additional EDI Program Building Services
- Recruitment, retention, and interviewing
- Individual characteristics and diversity identification and acknowledgement
- Common affinity and team building
- Organizational, board and team auditing and priority and goal setting
- Meaningful surveys
- Employee resource group formation and support
- Needs assessments
- Tool and resource development
- Board and leadership development and leveling
- Legal compliance and risk analysis
- Organizational library and resource development
Authenticity Supercharges EDI Efforts
The most effective and authentic inclusion programs are woven into the entire fabric of an organization. From an organization’s board of directors and C-suite executives to part-time employees, success is organizational-wide and modeled at all levels.
For example, when companies grow rapidly, the composition of their workforces can easily become imbalanced, which in turn makes it difficult to attract more diverse employees.
That was the experience of one client, a tech startup who wanted to establish a more inclusive workplace climate than the “bro-centric” one that had emerged.
Instead of investing in one-off recruiting efforts as window dressing, we worked with individuals and teams throughout the organization to usher in new practices, including establishing resource groups, that were the right cultural fit for the company.
The internal buy-in set the path for our client’s next move, which was an external look at its reputation in the community. We guided the client on taking meaningful actions to upgrade their role as corporate citizens in their communities. The powerful combination of internal and external efforts transformed the company into one sought out by well qualified, diverse candidates. In addition, the continued efforts by company leadership enhanced employee retention and satisfaction, which saved the costly expenses associated with frequent turnover, which can exceed 30% of the employee’s annual salary.
Value-Add EDI Leadership
Because successful and authentic inclusion and diversity programs permeate every facet of an organization, including legal risk and assessment, Buchalter’s team gathers input from attorneys from multiple practice areas and industries and vast experiences, including corporate, labor and employment, and litigation.
Leading the Organizational Inclusion, Diversity, and Belonging Group is Jon Olafson, a shareholder in the Denver office. Jon, an openly gay man, has advised and worked with a broad range of corporate and non-profit clients and organizations on planning and executing their inclusion and diversity plans.
Jon’s formal training includes Cornell University’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Certificate program. For his work in this area, Jon has received numerous awards, including the Colorado LGBT Bar Association’s Attorney of the Year, the Sam Cary Bar Association’s Ben Aisenberg Diversity Leadership Award, and the Texas Tech University School of Law’s Daniel H. Benson Public Service Award. Jon currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for Legal Inclusiveness, Sam Cary Bar Association, and Colorado Defense Lawyers Association, where he serves as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion.