On Veteran’s Day this year, I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Path to Inclusion Symposium put on by The Florida Bar’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. After some opening words of support from our Bar President, we then heard a keynote from the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Duane Morris, and previous CDO at Walmart, Joseph K. West. Three tracks comprised the remainder of the symposium: gender bias, implicit bias, and multiculturalism. I first attended a gender equity session on Breaking the Glass Ceiling in which some luminaries provided insight and guidance on the challenges they have faced particularly coming up in the legal world as women with a particular emphasis on the continued importance of hiring, recruiting, and developing women in the workforce. I really appreciated the lunchtime technology CE by our President-elect designate, John Stewart. Mr. Stewart was gregarious and peppered his presentation with relatable humor. I found the inclusion of the CLE particularly important because it touched on an area of diversity and inclusion that we often don’t focus on: access by marginalized populations. Although the focus of the presentation was not access for the poor or disabled, I think its inclusion in the symposium was a step in the right direction for incorporating and recognizing those facts of diversity and I look forward to seeing where this particular path will lead.
The afternoon concluded with two additional breakouts. The first I attended piggybacked nicely on the first session with a more focused look at women in the profession prospectively, rather than in the past with a particularly emphasis on empowerment. Lastly (before the best part—catching up and making new friends over a drink and an enormously oversized pretzel), the various section leaders facilitated small roundtable discussions—this was one of the highlights of the event we discussed concrete steps can be taken by the Bar and the Committee to further their missions of fostering both diversity and inclusion. It was a day well spent, despite the drought of animals in attendance and I’ll certainly look forward to attending next year.