Commitment to Diversity
Woods Oviatt recognizes that a diverse workforce which is representative of the makeup of society as a whole will assist a law firm, or any business in serving clientele with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.
Beyond that, Woods Oviatt recognizes that cultivating and maintaining a diverse workforce is an important social goal in and of itself. Building and maintaining a diverse workforce represents a valid and important goal, separate and apart from the positive effects which a diverse workforce contributes to the firm's ability to serve clientele.
Why Diversity is Important
- A diverse workforce is representative of the clientele we serve, and hence assists and fosters our ability to provide effective representation.
- There is evidence that maintaining a diverse workforce contributes to increased staff retention, satisfaction and productivity.
- Diversity enhances the organization's responsiveness to an increasingly diverse client base.
- Diversity improves relations with the community at large.
- Diversity expands the creativity and flexibility of the organization in dealing with multifaceted challenges.
- It is the law.
- It is the right thing to do.
What is Diversity?
Race, ethnicity, religious and cultural backgrounds have often been defined as the traditional parameters of diversity. Here at Woods Oviatt, we take a broader view. Diversity is a social difference which makes a difference which can be physical or socially created. The fact is that social differences exist, and these differences, which define diversity, should be recognized and welcomed within the organization. Many differences, beyond race and ethnicity must be recognized. Diversity refers to characteristics and attributes of people and of groups which differ from one another. Diversity has many dimensions including, but not necessarily limited to: age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities, disabilities, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, geographic background, cultural background, income, marital status, military experience, parental status, religious belief or non-belief, work experience, and job classification.
At Woods Oviatt we recognize that having a diversity initiative means much more than making an equal employment opportunity statement. Although the firm clearly is an equal opportunity employer, a diversity initiative must go beyond that toward recognizing, welcoming, and fostering, a diverse workforce and more importantly, the professional growth, development, and comfort of employees within the institution who come to us with various diverse characteristics.
The Diversity Committee
Woods Oviatt, being committed to diversity, understands that it is important to have established systems and processes within the firm to link diversity initiatives and goals with organizational management so that diversity becomes true institutional effort.
Woods Oviatt's Diversity Committee works hand in hand with the firm's Management Committee to address the issue of diversity which includes consideration of the following:
- Woods Oviatt's commitment to diversity;
- Woods Oviatt's goals in achieving diversity;
- Woods Oviatt's challenges with respect to diversity;
- Creating and building a diverse workforce; and
- Managing a diverse workforce, maintaining a diverse workforce.
Building a Diverse Workforce
Woods Oviatt's commitment to building a diverse workforce has been demonstrated through its participation in the Diversity Clerkship Program of Monroe County Bar Association. Woods Oviatt was a charter member of the group of firms participating in the Diversity Clerkship Program. It is a program administered by the Monroe County Bar Association, through which candidates with diverse characteristics, typically ethnic minority backgrounds, from numerous law schools, apply for positions as 1L summer clerks with the participating firms and legal services entities. Woods Oviatt has participated in the program since its inception three years ago and received an assignment of a 1L candidate. In each instance, the 1L diversity candidate was grouped with our firm's 2Ls in our summer program and received treatment and assignments in the same manner. Woods Oviatt has been able to offer each 1L diversity candidate a position as a 2L for the subsequent summer. Click here to watch a video about the MCBA's Diversity Clerkship Program.
Woods Oviatt is also making efforts to increase diversity within its attorneys' ranks by actively recruiting at locations with more diverse candidates than might otherwise be found in Western New York. For example we have regularly attended the Northeast BLSA Job Fair, Monroe County Legal
Diversity & Inclusion Job Fair and the Southeast Law Placement Interviews.
Educating Staff as well as Management Personnel regarding How to Work Effectively and in a Team Oriented Fashion in a Diverse Workforce Environment.
At Woods Oviatt we recognize that promoting diversity goes beyond hiring and requires continuing education of management and staff by identifying outside educational opportunities and conducting internal educational programs in the following areas:
- Promoting inclusiveness
- Educating against discrimination
- Promoting fairness and equality
- Recognizing and welcoming differences
- Gathering feedback from various perspectives