Diversity, equity and inclusion are core Smith Anderson values and are the driving forces behind the longstanding tradition of creating various programs and initiatives at the firm. Recently, Smith Anderson created an Excellence in Diversity 1L Fellowship program for first-year law school students who have demonstrated their commitment to diversity and inclusion and also named our first Chief Diversity Officer, employment lawyer Taylor Dewberry. The firm was also featured in The Diversity Movement article, “Five Eastern U.S. Law Firms That Do DEI Right,” recognizing its commitment and efforts.
In 2019, Smith Anderson launched its Diversity Mentor Program (DMP) to build and strengthen relationships at the firm. The DMP pairs a firm partner with a diverse associate to build internal relationships, assist in career development, and share external business and community involvement opportunities. Aligning with the program’s mission of internal relationship building, the DMP recently held a book exchange event where mentors and mentees were asked to identify a book that had a significant impact on their life, and to explain what that impact was and how it shaped them. The event created an engaging and thoughtful learning and growing opportunity for all involved.
Further extending the DMP’s commitment to not only support diverse lawyers internally but to also expand their reach in the surrounding community, the DMP selected Quail Ridge Books, a local woman-owned business, as its vendor to source and purchase the books. As part of the book exchange event, the DMP also donated a full set of the books that were part of the exchange to the Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School Media Center to demonstrate its support of under resourced communities. These books each had a significant impact on each of our program participants’ lives and we hope they are just as impactful in the lives of students from our community.