In 2003, Stites & Harbison created the Diversity Committee and adopted a Diversity Action Plan as part of the firm’s strategic plan to develop and maintain a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Stites & Harbison strives to create and promote a work environment that is diverse, inclusive, and values the uniqueness of each individual. This enhances the firm’s culture and helps attract and retain the most qualified personnel who together reflect the diversity of the clients and communities we serve. A law firm with a diverse group of attorneys is a law firm that thinks creatively and provides better solutions for its clients.
The firm’s Diversity Committee (1) advises the firm on issues that affect law firm diversity, (2) assists in revising, implementing, and administering the firm’s Diversity Action Plan, (3) apprises the firm of developments and accomplishments in the area of diversity, and (4) promotes diversity and inclusion and helps keep these issues ‘top of mind’ for the firm. The current chair of the Diversity Committee is Demetrius O. Holloway.
The firm’s Diversity Action Plan promotes diversity through five strategies:
- Firm-wide commitment. Includes top-down support and ongoing education.
- Entry-level recruitment. Focuses on ensuring that entering attorney classes are diverse.
- Lateral recruitment. Includes a lateral hiring strategy designed to build a "critical mass" across all experience levels of the firm.
- Retention and advancement. Encourages the review, analysis, implementation, and development of firm policies and practices on an ongoing basis to improve retention and promote advancement of diverse classes of attorneys.
- Community outreach. Encourages involvement in community organizations, affinity bar associations and other professional organizations, and pro bono cases that reflect the firm’s interest in diversity and inclusion.
The goal of the Diversity Action Plan is to create policies and programs that will result in the recruitment, hiring, development, retention, and promotion of personnel with richly diverse backgrounds, talents, and perspectives.
In furtherance of increasing the firm’s diversity via the foregoing strategies, Stites has:
- Held training sessions on diversity for the firm’s leadership;
- Routinely recruited from various diversity job fairs;
- Revised its parental leave policy;
- Adopted an alternative work schedule policy;
- Provided health insurance coverage to domestic partners; and
- Increased involvement in affinity bar associations.
S.W.I.F.T. (Stites Women Investing in our Future Together)
The firm established SWIFT (Stites Women Investing in our Future Together) in 2003 to enhance female attorney mentoring, peer support, networking opportunities, and diversity efforts throughout the firm. SWIFT regularly meets by video conference and in local firm offices to address important topics impacting the group, and also gathers in person at least one time a year. Additionally, SWIFT hosts several external events for female business leaders in an effort to connect with women in the community, encourage career advancement, promote achievements, and stimulate relationship building.
Since SWIFT’s inception, nationally recognized speakers and professional panelists have presented programs on topics including effective communication, networking, generational differences, diversity, work/family/lifestyle balance, and planning for a successful career. SWIFT also hosts and sponsors key events, panel presentations, roundtable discussions, and unique networking receptions to further foster the building of strong relationships.
Examples include: You Raised Us—Now Work With Us: Millennials, Career Success, and Building Strong Workplace Teams; Success Strategies for Women Attorneys; Putting the Work into Networking; Taking Care of Business; Applying Life Skills to Negotiations; Your Life, Your Future—A Plan for Success; and Gender Communication in the Legal Profession.