Celebrating Firsts In the Judiciary Advances Diversity And Inclusion

I love celebrating firsts!!!

And since My Thing is Courts, I love to see when color, gender, and other diversity barriers are broken in judgeships, firm partnerships, and court leadership. That is when we as a Country are living out our promise of Justice for all!

Celebrating Firsts in the judiciary advances diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.

Firsts signal what can be done. A young Black, Muslim, or LBGTQ+ person no longer has to question if they can have a career as a judge. They now have proof, a living and breathing role model.

Firsts expand our reality. Society’s limited thinking of what a lawyer, partner, court administrator, or judge looks like is trashed.

Firsts are powerful!

Nusrat Choudhury, if confirmed, would be The First Bangladeshi American and first Muslim woman to serve on the federal bench and the second Muslim American.

Arianna Freeman, if confirmed, would be The First Black woman to serve on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

I feel a celebration in the air!!

With the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame display of Judge Geraldine Bledsoe Ford, the first black female in the United States to be elected to a judgeship.

“Making D&I Real”

“Making D&I Real” is a repost of a Court Leader blog created by my court leader colleague and friend Norman Meyer. I was honored to co-present with Norman on D&I and we invite you to our virtual session.

Making D&I Real:

Last summer, NACM supplemented its annual conference education program with a set of recorded “bonus sessions” for both in-person and virtual attendees. I am happy to report that these sessions, along with those that were live-streamed, are available to anyone on NACM’s website: Video Gallery – National Association for Court Management (nacmnet.org). In particular, it pleases me greatly that the session I partnered with Zenell Brown on, “Making Diversity & Inclusion REAL: a How-To Primer for Court Administrators,” is now available to anyone at this link: https://youtu.be/nAqqzkJ2ROU. I encourage everyone to check out our video session, but also the many other valuable sessions on a wide range of important topics.

Our session started with explaining why diversity and inclusion (D&I) is a critical element of good court governance and administration, and how a robust D&I environment is a critical factor to fulfill the judiciary’s fundamental purposes.  Not only that, but D&I enhances key performance areas like accountability, public access and transparency, and public trust and confidence.  After this introduction, the session focused on how court administrators can make D&I a day-to-day occurrence in the courts – in other words, “making it real.”

The session used the NACM CORE Competencies as a basis (CORE®: What Court Professionals Need to Know (nacmcore.org), giving practical examples of actions court administrators can (and should!) take to enhance D&I in their organizations.  For example, in the area of Workforce Management, how can one overcome the “pipeline problem” in recruiting and promoting staff?  How can one eliminate bias in performance management? In the critical CORE area of Strategic Planning, the session includes examples of D&I metrics like self-assessment frameworks. The tools are jump start for individuals to assess where they currently are in their D&I journey and to determine what needs to be accomplished. 

Another CORE example is employee Education and Development; we encouraged court managers to include topics and trainings like implicit bias, effective interpersonal communication strategies/techniques, and how management staff can implement D&I in their roles/actions. Other CORE areas covered were Operations ManagementInformation Technology, and Budget and Resources.

As you can see, the session has a lot of useful content presented by court managers for court managers. If you have not seen the session, Zenell and I urge you to take the time to view it and see how you can improve your professional (and personal) commitment to a workplace that values diversity and inclusion and puts it into action every day.

Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay

Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay. The first steps to eliminating human suffering and struggles are to seek understanding and practice compassion.

In the US, 1 in 5 adults experienced mental illness in 2019. That translate into either we, ourselves, have experienced it or we are in probably in close proximity to someone who has.

Mental illness stigma is pervasive and must be eradicated.

Stigma perpetuates shame, myths, and the ostracizing of members of our community.

Reversing the stigma means getting the facts and data, talking about mental health like we do the weather, and promoting therapy and medical treatment like we do for physical illness.

Everyone needs to be part of the solution. In Detroit, Debbie Nelson coordinates a juvenile mental health court program that serves youth. Her goal is to ensure the youth receive treatment and services so they can experience have pursue happiness and success in school, family and friend relationships, and life. Dr. Anita Caprice Msc.D. (she/hers) volunteers and raises the awareness of suicide prevention with on her Facebook page and social media platforms. In fact, probably every celebrity you know (follow) will hashtag #WorldMentalHealthDay today.

But a hashtag and what others do are not enough; we need you. We need your voice and your action.

If you do nothing else today, do these three things:

  1. Take five minutes to look at the infographics on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, http://www.nami.org.
  2. Talk with someone about what you learned.
  3. Share the NAMI link and this post on your social media pages.

Understanding and compassion are foundational to creating inclusion, and what you learn and do today can make a difference.

Photo credit: Word Press

Inclusion Idea: The Term “Female Leaders”

“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” –Sheryl Sandberg

As a woman, I who can’t wait til that future is here.

The Female Quotient’s LinkedIn post of Ms. Sandberg’s quote was accompanied with this question “When will the term ‘female leaders’ finally become obsolete?”

Translation: what must happen to create the future, the future of leadership, I want to see and hopefully live in. Here are my immediate responses:

It will require that females of all races/ethnicities and other identity intersections (ability, religion, etc,) are in positions of leadership. Otherwise the headline changes from fist female leader to first African Ameican, Hispanic, Asian or Latin American female leader.

Also, female workplace accommodations like lactation rooms have to become as common place as restrooms and attention must be given to design and placement.

Artist: Zen Brown

It will involve the normalizing gender equality such as paternity leave. Men supported and taking time off at the birth and other critical stages in their children lives as it meets the values and needs of their family. Family leave without career derailment.

The term ‘female leaders’ will become obsolete when we use the gender based equity research to identify what needs to be done (solutions), plan (how and when), and implement those plans.

The Michigan Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM) & Black Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (BWLAM) are looking for All Michigan Lawyers who want to work on the solution in 2021.

It’s time to talk about and create the future.

Week 16 Inclusion Idea: We Will Get Busy and Forget About Inclusion

I wrote and published 14 weeks of blogs. Then I forgot to publish Week 15. Then it slipped my mind to even write the article for Week 16.

Busyness is a powerful antagonist of inclusion.

We are too busy to acknowledge people. We are polite but rarely do we really hold a conversation where we are genuinely interested in what the other person is saying. Don’t believe me: after a loved one finishes talking how often do you paraphrase their thoughts to ensure you got their important points or how often do you ask clarifying questions?And that’s with people we care about.

We are so focused on pushing an agenda forward and getting things done.

We don’t have time for things that get in the way or slow us down. Practicing inclusion slows us down. It’s not an innate skill or ability that comes natural to the wiring of our brain. There are not incentives or awards or demerits and punishments every time you do or do not include someone. There may not even been enough social support to keep us interested, motivated, and engaged in inclusion. We can fake Inclusion at the office or limit inclusion to workplace interaction. Isn’t that why many company purchase stock photos? We can punch out at 5pm and leave inclusion on our desk until the next workday.

For me, even with all intentionality and deliberation, I did not write my Week 16 Article. I became too busy to write about inclusion. And, the upcoming weeks are pretty jammed too. Will Week 17 make it to print?

Honestly, I can’t make a promise for that or at least, I can’t say when. I’m not throwing the towel in. My goal is to write the article because I think we all need to share thoughts on inclusion— stories, tips, lessons learned, new science, etc. But what’s even more important is to live and practice inclusion. I choose the living over the writing. Busyness required I prioritize but not give up what’s important to me.

I want inclusion outside of my workplace and even off the page. I most want to live it—have all types of interactions across the dimensions of diversity. I want to learn about others from different background, be respectful, and make world resources and happiness available to all. I may not have ample time to write about on schedule, but I never want to be too busy to live it.

Here’s Week 16’s article with a promise of more to come but no promise of exactly when…

Until then spread inclusion wherever you go even after 5!!