Smith Anderson’s commitment to furthering diversity and inclusion has been recognized by North Carolina and South Carolina Lawyers Weekly, which will honor the firm in its 2021 Diversity & Inclusion Awards, and by the Wake County Bar Association, which has awarded Smith Anderson its inaugural Equity Champion Award.
North Carolina and South Carolina Lawyers Weekly Diversity & Inclusion Awards will be held virtually on March 25, 2021 and will honor Smith Anderson with an award in the “Firm” category.
In addition, the Wake County Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (“DEI”) Committee awarded Smith Anderson the inaugural Equity Champion Award. This award is to be presented annually to an individual, organization, or group that demonstrates sustained support for advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal community. The DEI Committee chose Smith Anderson based on selection criteria requiring that the award recipient: (1) be a catalyst for change regarding diversity and inclusion in the legal field; (2) effectively lead and motivate others by demonstrating visionary thinking in advancing diversity; and (3) build meaningful partnerships with community organizations that have a significant impact on equity and inclusion.
Smith Anderson’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and the actions the firm has taken internally and externally to demonstrate this commitment is highlighted in an article in the Wake County Bar Association newsletter.
Kerry Shad, partner and member of Smith Anderson’s Management Committee and Co-Chair of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, is quoted in the article as saying “Increasing diversity and inclusion is not a part-time job or extracurricular activity - it requires thinking about it every single day and always looking for ways to make it a key part of every initiative or important decision we make as a law firm.”
The article highlights firm diversity and inclusion initiatives including:
- Adopting a Strategic Plan that includes goals to continue pro-actively hiring, retaining, and advancing diverse lawyers to partnership and key leadership roles. To that end, over 50% of the firm’s 2020 class of ten (10) Summer Associates was diverse; effective January 2021, 50% of the firm’s associates newly elected to partnership are diverse; and three members of the firm’s nine-person elected Management Committee are women (including the Chair of such committee), and one of those three is LGBTQIA+.
- Issuing written statements about the killing of Black citizens and the call as a firm to defend against the injustices that continue to exist in society—one designed for internal use and the other as an public proclamation of the firm’s external commitment entitled “Racial Injustice: Where We Stand and What We Are Doing.”
- Launching an internal Diversity Mentor Program pairing partners with diverse associates to create a supportive and inclusive work environment with measurable activities monitored on a quarterly basis.
- Featuring at its most recent firm retreat a presentation by Cranford Advisory Services LLC about diversity and inclusion in law firms, including a focus on how to identify and address microaggressions and unconscious bias.
- Hosting an internal program on diversity in the legal profession featuring a panel of diverse in-house lawyers from GlaxoSmithKline, RDU Airport Authority, Local Government Federal Credit Union, and Trilliant.
- Hosting a networking reception attended by representatives of more than 45 companies for OnBoardNC, an organization dedicated to accelerating gender equality in the board room through networking opportunities that introduce board-ready female executives to companies seeking new directors.
- Celebrating the firm’s 108th anniversary with a firm-wide fundraising campaign to provide philanthropic support to the following North Carolina non-profit organizations that seek to change racial injustice holistically through action, advocacy, and education: we are, StepUp Ministry, and the North Carolina Justice Center.
- Prioritizing using Minority, Women and Veteran-Owned Businesses as subcontractors and vendors.
- Sponsoring numerous conferences such as NC Tech’s Diversity + Inclusion Summit, NC Chamber’s Women: A Force in Business, and NC Chamber’s Workplace Diversity & Inclusion conferences.
- Hosting multiple events annually to connect, support, and promote women and diverse lawyers in North Carolina.
To learn more about Smith Anderson’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, please click here.
North Carolina Lawyers Weekly has been providing essential legal news, opinions, and court decisions to its readers since 1988 and is a top source of legal information for practicing attorneys in the state.
Lawyers Weekly covers all decisions issued by the North Carolina Supreme Court and the North Carolina Court of Appeals, in addition to the hundreds of rulings from state Circuit Court judges, U.S. District Court judges, 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges and other state agencies. For more information, visit nclawyersweekly.com.
Since 1925, the Wake County Bar Association has been serving the public and the profession. Membership in the Wake County Bar Association is voluntary for lawyers and judges who practice and reside in Wake County and are engaged in private practice, government service, corporate employment and the judiciary. Currently, there are more than 2,300 members who have chosen to better themselves, the profession and the public by providing better access to and understanding of the legal system. For more information, visit wakecountybar.org.
Photo courtesy of Yvonne Armendariz