We Must Embrace Diversity To Meet Today’s Challenges

By Bain Jones

While seeing “The Darkest Hour,” the award-nominated movie about the early months of World War II in Britain, I was impressed that Winston Churchill chose to effectively use his coalition war cabinet, a group of diverse individuals. Reflective of the 1930’s, this group of leaders did not have gender or racial diversity. However, it did have a cross-section of diverse individuals. Members of the nobility, aristocracy, military, merchants, union representatives and other walks of life in Great Britain were present to advise the Prime Minister concerning policy and actions in those dark days. With the challenging issues facing our nation, our state, communities and our Bar and legal practice, I must believe that bringing diversity of life experiences, cultural backgrounds, intelligence and work experiences to the forefront would have to result in reasoned and successful decisions and experiences.

For some time, we have discussed the need for diversity in the law at all levels. Few would argue that diversity would fail to bring a more balanced work experience and work product. Most also agree that inclusiveness in all aspects of the law would help to promote a stronger and healthy community. Unfortunately, history shows that the legal profession has been one of the least diverse professions in our nation.

A recent American Bar Association Survey reveals that some may think why it even matters for the profession to be diverse. There are questions as to the benefits of diversity in our profession. The ABA defines diversity as “the term used to describe the set of policies, practice and programs that change the rhetoric of the inclusion into empirically measurable change.” Clearly, diversity is more than just racial and ethnic diversity.  Diversity encompasses all persons of every background, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, and disability.

While the meaning of diversity has slightly different interpretations for each of us, most would agree that individuals’ experiences and exposure to different situations inform each person’s perspectives, perceptions and beliefs. All people want to belong, to be heard and be understood.

The American Bar Association believes that diversity in our profession is necessary to demonstrate that our laws are being made and administered for the benefit of all persons. No doubt the public’s perception of the legal profession directly impacts the impressions of the legal system in our nation. Lack of commitment to the diverse principles in our work, our firms, our Bar, and our government directly impacts the public confidence of the legal system. A diverse legal profession is more just, productive and intelligent. The engagement of diversity, both cognitive and cultural, results in better questions, analyses, solutions and processes.

The Administrative Law Section Council is committed to diversity in its policies and actions. The Council strongly supports diversity in Bar membership, composition of law firms, and all aspects of our lives. Stand up and be counted by taking real and meaningful actions that result in diversity in our Bar, our legal system, in our firms and in our individual lives. Please work to improve the diversity of our section and Bar. Contact me with suggestions as to how the Council may assist in this effort. Also, please nominate diverse members of the section to serve on committees and on the Council.  Please email me at wbjonesjr1@hotmail.com.

As we continue our commitment to diversity, I am confident that, like the War Cabinet in Britain, we will be rigorously debating issues, gaining greater understanding of issues and in the end, making strong and effective decisions.

Bain Jones is a former Temporary Administrative Law Judge and Deputy Commissioner at the Industrial Commissioner. Mr. Jones is a sole practitioner of Administrative Law, Workers Compensation, Social Security and Employment Law.