What’s the key to ensuring others feel included?
According to Bill Bradley, EdD, a facilitator for the Academy for Inclusive Leadership Development (AILD) program at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, it starts with focusing on yourself.
Practicing inclusivity requires self-awareness, argues Bradley, which is why he starts off his AILD session by asking participants to complete a self-assessment exercise.
“Then we analyze: Does that show up in the interactions that I have? In the relationships of the people I'm working with?” said Bradley, who has more than 30 years of experience in change management and teaching diversity, equity and inclusion. He then takes it a step further. “Here's what you say that your values are, are those showing up in the way you deal with people?”
It’s all part of the AILD’s approach to teaching inclusivity. The program launched last year with the goal of training students and professionals on structural bias and anti-racism in the workplace with specialized readings, training tools, presentations, discussions, exercises and simulations—as well as opportunities for reflection and application in real-world settings.
Together, participants grapple with structural biases in the legal profession, the science of bias, cultural humility, the economics of law practice, performing organizational assessments, building diverse work teams and inclusive practices in organizations, employment law, organizational management and transformational leadership.
“This isn’t only about the national response to George Floyd and the racial reckoning of 2020,” said Bryan Adamson, the David L. and Ann Brennan Professor of Law and associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the law school.
“More than ever, law firms seek associates who aren’t just great attorneys, but great leaders as they look to transform their firms,” Adamson continued. “The AILD will make a real difference for graduates and law firms during the hiring process, and certainly helps attorneys be better equipped to make and sustain diverse, equitable and inclusive legal practices.”
Jayda Rogers, a 2L who participated in the program last year, appreciated the host of perspectives from law students and professionals. She recalled that the conversations were especially timely when, in June, the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed affirmative action in higher education.
“I think now, more than ever, [diversity, equity and inclusion] needs to be discussed,” said Rogers, who is also the 56th Midwest Regional Director of Programming for the Black Law Student Association, which comprises over 50 chapters including CWRU School of Law.
“Students really need answers, [and] programs like the AILD are where these conversations are happening.”