In this Q&A, Claire Zeise, Recruiting and Diversity & Inclusion Manager at Dorsey & Whitney, discusses her and her firm’s efforts to continue the work of allyship.
You recently organized a meeting of ALFDP members to discuss allyship – what prompted that process?
In the days and weeks following the death of George Floyd, Dorsey’s Diversity & Inclusion team was hearing from many people across our law firm saying they wanted to support our Black colleagues, but they didn’t know what to do. We realized that the time was right to launch an allyship group to organize and direct the efforts of the many people who want to get involved, learn, and make a difference, but may not be sure where to start or what to do next.
What did you learn in best practices from connecting with ALFDP members?
First I just need to say how much I appreciate our ALFDP network! The breadth and depth of knowledge within the group is incredible, and I appreciate the community and sharing that takes place within our group. In meeting with ALFDP members, I learned there are a range of ways that different law firms approach allyship work. Some have established allyship groups led by D&I professionals who provide training and resources, basically pushing out information to those who are interested and primarily focusing on education and training. Other firms (whether they have an established allyship group or not) have empowered individuals throughout their organizations to do this work, both inspiring people to take individual actions but also lead discussion events after reading an article, watching a film, or reading a book. Both strategies can be effective, but it will come down to a matter of your firm’s culture and resources to determine which route makes the most sense.
What practices do you hope to implement within your organization, going forward?
At Dorsey we recently launched an Allyship Group, with a plan to focus on educating itself on systemic racism and marginalization of underrepresented groups and, in collaboration with other Dorsey Resource Groups, provide educational opportunities and recommend policies that will make Dorsey a more inclusive community. Our new allyship group will balance action with listening and learning, and will be led by an attorney and two staff members not previously involved in D&I leadership at our law firm. Other initiatives we have in process related to allyship include: implementing an Identity-Related Trauma Response Plan so we can be ready to act quickly when future incidents impact underrepresented groups, improving our internal self-identification questionnaire to ensure that we know of all races/ethnicities with which someone identifies and therefore who is affected by a traumatic event that impacts a certain race or ethnicity, and providing additional firm-wide education around racial equity (including sessions on the history of racial trauma, and understanding privilege and advancing racial equity