CBA Hosts Sixth Annual Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Summit

Written Monday, October 25, 2021

On Wednesday, October 20, more than 170 people attended the CBA’s sixth annual Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Summit: The Collaborative Blueprint. The interactive and engaging virtual summit explored strategies for increasing retention in legal organizations and creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive legal community within Connecticut.

CBA president and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee co-chair, Cecil J. Thomas, welcomed participants to the summit. “The work we do here and throughout the year is incredibly vital,” stated President Thomas. “It speaks to our professional and personal commitments to advance the ideals and principals that this country was founded upon: equality, equity, and justice. A more equitable and inclusive legal profession is one that increases confidence in our system of justice and the rule of law, so that the law and those of us who are sworn to serve it reflects the diversity of our society and confirms that the law works for all people and not just for some.”

Similar to years past, President Thomas presented the data from the Connecticut Legal Community’s Diversity & Inclusion Pledge & Plan Signatories, which showed changes in the diversity of signatory organizations. The signatories represent varying legal sectors from solo and small firms to large firms, as well as public/non-profit legal professionals and corporate counsels. The Diversity & Inclusion Pledge & Plan reflects a reaffirmation of the legal profession’s commitment to approaching diversity and inclusion strategically, collaboratively, and with accountability.

Neeta M. Vatti, one of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee co-chairs, introduced plenary workshop speaker Dr. Arin N. Reeves. Dr. Reeve’s workshop allowed for interactions between participants and focused on solutions and best practices for retention, emphasizing the difference between retention and attrition and how organizations can implement best practices to account for each.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee co-chair, Kean Zimmerman, welcomed the summit’s keynote speaker, Dr. Robert Livingston of Harvard University. Dr. Livingston spoke about the PRESS model—Problem Awareness, Root Cause Analysis, Empathy, Strategy, Sacrifice. This model set a foundation for best practices to move beyond biases in organizations and help members become more vocal and active with diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

The summit received positive responses from all attendees and enthusiasm from the speakers. Thank you to the presenters and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Summit Committee members for organizing an interactive and engaging event and to all our sponsors for making the event possible.