Its Black History Month. I know we all want to celebrate and mark this important month, and it can be daunting when we are all so busy. And then there is a sense of shame or guilt if we can’t make time.
I've asked myself a few times in the last few days, 'what can I do?' and 'am I doing enough.' These feelings drove me to compile of list of ideas and resources. This list isn't complete by any means, but I am happy to share what I know with my community.
What can you do to celebrate and honor Black History Month?
As this is a conversation, we’d love to hear from you. How do you honor Black History Month? What things are you doing this month that you’d like to share? Thank you!
Tip: Keeping You and Your Team Healthy and Productive While Working Remotely
On January 27, 2021, Professor Eli Wald examined this question in a CLI webinar. I strongly suggest you watch a copy of the webinar and learn the invaluable insight the Professor Wald offered as it relates to this issue. But for now, here are some of the major takeaways and tips that we hope you will consider as your law firm or legal organization examines this important question.
First, the initial data indicates that remote work has not undercut productivity. An associate, for example, who know she must bill eight hours in the day will do so, just maybe in a different order than she typically would at the office. It is time that the legal profession enters the 21st century and realize that this is not a reason to require lawyer’s to be at their desk in the office.
Second, the lawyer’s well-being. Now that we know there has not been any proof that productivity has taken a hit, it is time to consider the wellness factor that comes with working remotely. Commuting time, autonomy, the possibility of work-out breaks that achieve greater focus. these are some of the many things that make working from home increase a person’s ability to keep their heads above water during this over changing time.
Third, be transparent. Make sure your entire team is clear about their expectations without fail. This means that there are discussions among leadership about all the many facets of working remotely and what your leaderships specific policies are regarding the same. Then communicate these policies – not in an “it depends” lawyer way – as clearly as possible and in writing.
CLI is not necessarily making a case for working remotely but rather giving tips on why this may make sense for your organization and how to begin the process of bringing such a change to fruition. Just like in the office, there are concerns related to implicit bias, equity, equality and ideas on how to rectify these ongoing issues. Professor Wald does an incredible job addressing these issues and we strongly suggest you check out his video in our virtual library – you will not be sorry.
If you missed this program and would like to watch, please contact our team here: email@example.com
Tip: Don't forget to Relax!
Our tip this month is a quick guide to meditation - see for yourself below. Thanks to Peggy and our friends at Refresh Studios!
Tip: Vicarious Trauma - WE ARE ALL EXPERIENCING VICARIOUS TRAUMA
The Office for Victims of Crime defines vicarious trauma as the negative impact on people who frequently witness and empathetically engage with victims of traumatic incidents. This was and still is a well-recognized struggle for first responders, caregivers, and health-care workers tending to victims under extreme distress. But through the window of our televisions, computers and phone screens, Black, indigenous, people of color people and Allies are now subject to this form of trauma too. With social media, viewing and reading other people’s trauma has been normalized. We were not meant to watch, read and absorb so much trauma and, as a result, people are experiencing vicarious trauma.
Not only are we regularly witnessing the rawness related to systemic racism that seems to be never ending, but we are also immersed in images and statistics about Covid-19. For those of us who are empathetic beings, we are experiencing vicarious trauma in some sense. Do not confuse vicarious trauma with burn out. Yes, we are all burned out with zoom fatigue, but trauma is something different. Burnout happens when you are not appreciating your work, feeling overworked, not feeling challenged, exhausted, worn out, etc. Vicarious trauma, however, is a state of tension and preoccupation of the stories/trauma experiences shared by others.
Vicarious trauma is more likely to result in traumatic symptoms such as dissociation / disconnection from self (walling off painful feelings, denial, avoidance, numbing); disconnection from others (loss of trust, difficulty relating); loss of meaning (loss of spiritual faith, purpose, meaning in life, the goodness of people / life). The feeling is that there is no time or energy for self or enjoyable activities; disconnection from loved ones, friends and social contacts; increased sensitivity to violence; cynicism; generalized negativity, loss of faith; increased edginess, sharpness and anger.
Like direct trauma, however, one can get through vicarious trauma. The first step is recognizing what you are experiencing and understanding the implications if you do not act. Here are some tips to combat vicarious trauma: take action (e.g., join BLM or similar efforts); take breaks from social media; listen with empathy; bring compassion into difficult conversations; fight Zoom fatigue and create ways to stay connected during Covid-19.
Tip: There are NO Shortcuts When it Comes to DEI Efforts: Let Experts Help!
Read about what happens when organizations rely on their non-expert employees to create diversity, inclusivity and equity programs. Click here
Getting serious about DEI requires intentional effort by an organization to bring in experts to teach how to incorporate these values into the fabric of your company culture.
There are no such things as shortcuts when it comes to DEI efforts. No matter where you are in your DEI journey, the Center for Legal Inclusiveness can help.
Contact us today and let's make a plan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tip: Watch your Mouth!
This month’s tip is a challenge to all of us to watch what we say. Often, we speak without thinking which can strain relationships and have bigger consequences than we may realize. As we draw closer to the election – a divisive and charged time – we are challenging ourselves and others to adopt “clean speech” for the next 30 days.You can learn more and take the pledge with Clean Speech Colorado here
Tip: "Psychological First Aid"
In the age of two pandemics – COVID-19 and the pandemic of systematic racism in this country - the emotions that come with living in this situation are simply overwhelming. This week’s tip is about an article that explores the absolutes as it relates to selfcare in the Covid-19 pandemic.
An article that is directly parallel to the selfcare necessary in the age of racial reckoning and the Black Lives Matter movement. Please read this and think about the changes that need to be made in your life so that you may be able to withstand these two pandemics as best as you can.
You can read the full Washington Post article here
Tip: Respect and Friendship Despite Division
As we mourn the great loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we are also reminded of her unlikely friendship with another Supreme Court Justice. They were very much alike in some ways: they were both native New Yorkers, around the same age and liked many of the same things- opera, traveling, nice wine – to name a few. They first serve on the same bench on the D.C. Circuit Court, and later both served on the Supreme Court. When Scalia was asked about his friendship with someone who so notably disagreed with his view of the law he replied, “some things are more important than votes.” While Ginsburg noted “you can disagree, without being disagreeable” when speaking of Scalia. me Court Justice, the late Antonin Scalia. They often disagreed on their views of the law, but their decades long friendship was genuine, although surprising to many.
As we enter the election season, we are constantly reminded of harsh and growing partisan divide. We are also faced with the pandemics of systemic racism and Covid-19. Difficult, painful conversations have become somewhat the norm as we work hard to have a sense of compassion with each other’s opinions.
Today, however, we should take a moment and consider the lessons from the friendship of Justice Ginsburg and Justice Scalia. When speaking our own truths, we should remember the way these two notorious Justices disagreed and learned from one another. Let’s be reminded of this infamous friendship as we do our best to navigate these difficult times.
Tip: Working from Home
While many people have found their groove working from home and have developed a level of comfort, although they may be suffering from “zoom fatigue”, it is important to remember that for many people of color this is not the case. In general, people of color tend to keep their work lives separate from their home lives for good reason. Depending on an organizations’ diversity, equity
Please read this insightful article from the Harvard Business Review that utilizes an inclusion lens while discussing this important topic. and inclusivity efforts, many people of color feel they have to be “on” at work and do not let down their guard until they return home that evening.
Tip: Be an Ally
It can be daunting to think about how you can be an ally, but, hot tip: it's not hard. Becoming an ally is a series of small, meaningful steps. CLI has got a few tips for you here. And if you need information, please reach out. We would be thrilled to help.
Get educated: if you don’t know how to be an ally, get educated. There are hundreds of resources on google that will lead you to relevant websites. CLI can also point you in the right direction. Ask your friends how they are good allies. The information is there; you must want to see it. Don’t stop learning.
Get to know and support your local minority-owned businesses: and don’t say you don’t know where they are. Resources like The Black App can point you to hundreds of black-owned businesses. Check out your local Chambers of Commerce for more local information.
Get brave: all of this takes courage, but we know you can do it and CLI will support you every step of the way. If you don’t know, ask. Most people will understand if you are genuinely seeking information. This also includes not idly standing by when you see or hear something that is not right.
Get honest: take some time and look within. Unconscious bias is real. And there could be stereotypes or outdated ideas that linger. Not recognizing your own biases will inhibit you from being an ally and bringing your best self.
Allies agree to:
Tip: Self Care
The news, the pandemic, the election, homeschooling, systemic racism; it all adds up and takes a major toll on all of us. It is now more important than ever to make sure you stay well and take care of yourself.. Take a walk, get some exercise, breathe, and make time for just you each day. Research shows that those who have some sort of gratitude practice live a more whole life than those of those who do not.
You cannot solve the world’s problems when you’re not taking care of yourself. It doesn’t have to be cumbersome or time consuming but take the time to take care of yourself. We gathered some tips here in case you need a place to start:
- Take 10 deep breaths. Breathe in for 4-5 seconds and out for 6-7 seconds.
- Choose a day to take a break from the news and social media. Turn off the news, log out from social media and clear your mind.
- Stay hydrated. Even slight dehydration can have an impact on your mind and body
- Get outside (safely) and take in some fresh air.
- Start a healthy habit and commit to at least one healthy, mindful activity each day.
- Start a gratitude practice.
Tip: Inclusivity Statement
If your organization values Diversity and Inclusivity it is imperative that you create an inclusivity statement that is shared on your website. It should be a separate tab on your homepage and speak to your intentions of maintaining a diverse and inclusive workforce.
How to Create an Inclusivity Statement?
- Create a headline/title for your statement
- Make the statement conversational and easy to read
- Communicate values
- Be actionable for everyone
You can read our statement by clicking here
Tip: Helping Hands
We can’t quite recall how many decades ago it was when there was a “Helping Hand” program. If you remember, homes would place stickers of a hand in their window.
The thought was simple: if you were experiencing some sort of danger and/or fear you could run to the helping hand house and be assured the door would be open and you could find physical safety inside.
Although that was a long time ago, our law firms, the government, and other legal organizations could sure benefit from a Helping Hand right now.
The Center for Legal Inclusiveness suggests using a Helping Hand sticker that senior attorneys could place on their office door demonstrating it is okay to come into their office and have a safe conversation about systemic racism, diversity efforts, feeling alone or whatever sentiments come to mind.
The Helping Hand is just a simple signal that demonstrates safety for whatever needs to be said as we navigate these trying times.