International law firm Dechert has achieved Mansfield Rule Certification Plus for the third consecutive year. Dechert is in good company as one of the leading law firms to achieve this prestigious certification. This is proof of the firm’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. It also recognizes that Dechert is making meaningful progress with diversifying law firm leadership. Satra Sampson-Arokium, chief diversity, equity & inclusion officer states that “Creating a culture that supports diversity and inclusion is paramount for Dechert. We are honored to be Mansfield Certified Plus as we continue to deliver the excellence in service and innovative thinking our clients expect.”
“We are thrilled to celebrate these firms that have worked so tirelessly to implement the Mansfield Rule principles and create inclusive workplaces where every lawyer has the ability to thrive and the opportunity to lead,” says Natalia Marulanda, Mansfield Rule & Knowledge director at Diversity Lab. The Mansfield Rule’s rigorous year-long certification requires law firms to affirmatively consider at least 30% women, attorneys of color, attorneys with disabilities, and LGBTQ attorneys for top leadership roles as well as formal client-pitch opportunities, equity partner promotions, and senior-level lateral hiring.
To achieve Mansfield Rule Certification Plus status, Dechert met the requirements and successfully achieved at least 30% underrepresented lawyer representation in a number of their prominent, current leadership positions. According to Sampson-Arokium, “Dechert’s ongoing work in the area of diversity, inclusion, and equity is integral to our employees’ access to opportunities.”
One of the ways Dechert strives to better the workplace experience is through its firmwide Stand Against Racism speaker events. “A majority of our employees and partners have participated in these sessions, both live and through replaying videos on the firm’s internet,” Sampson-Arokium says. According to one employee, “A huge perk of working at Dechert is getting to listen and participate in the speaker series, with a wide range of speakers on topics like race, Black Lives Matter, and LGBTQ+ issues.”
Past speakers have included Dr. Courtney Cogburn, an associate professor of social work at Columbia University. She spoke on racism and racial inequities in the workplace. Baratunde Thurston, the Emmy-nominated writer, activist, and comedian, talked about how the power of language can transform stories of trauma into healing. ESPN commentator Shaka Hislop focused on his experiences with racism and how he uses his status as a former professional soccer player to effect change.
“As part of our second annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Week, Dechert also hosted Dr. Makaziwe Mandela, daughter of former South African President Nelson Mandela, for a discussion on resilience, social justice and the importance of connecting with people across differences,” notes Sampson-Arokium.
Dechert is home to a number of affinity groups including the Asian Affinity Group, the Disability Affinity Group, Latino Affinity Group, Global Women’s Initiative, Black Lawyers Alliance, Dechert Heroes, Family Network, LGBTQ Affinity Group, and the Greater Middle Eastern Alliance. These groups support the development and retention of diverse employees as well as educate others about the history and traditions of their cultures. According to Sampson-Arokium, “Affinity groups are integral to our culture. They help to make our workplace more welcoming and inclusive. The groups also importantly create programming focused on the attainment of professional and business development skills.”
In the past year, Dechert’s affinity groups have held events for a range of observances. The Latino Affinity Group hosted an event with Emmy Award-winning veteran of ABC News and host of What Would You Do? John Quiñones to spotlight Hispanic Heritage month. As part of February’s Black History Month, Kevin Richardson, one of the Exonerated Five, moderated a conversation on human dignity and criminal justice reform in America, sponsored by Dechert’s Black Lawyers Alliance.
In honor of May’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Dechert’s Asian Affinity Group invited ABC News and Nightline anchor Juju Chang to speak on her experiences. And on International Women’s Day (March 8), The Global Women’s Initiative invited Sandie Okoro, the senior vice president and general counsel for the World Bank Group and vice president for compliance at the World Bank, to speak about leadership, inclusion, equity, and mentorship as well as the role that lawyers can play to address gender bias and inequity. Also, during October’s Pride Month, Dechert’s LGBTQ Affinity Group hosted a virtual discussion with figure skater Adam Rippon, who made history in 2018 as the first openly gay athlete to win a medal for the United States during the Winter Olympic Games.
Dechert emphasizes the importance of self-education by providing valuable resources to everyone at the firm. Dechert’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Toolkit is a comprehensive resource on the firm’s intranet, which is intended to encourage continuous learning and empower individuals to bear the responsibility of educating themselves on topics relating to antiracism, actionable allyship, inclusive leadership, equity, and belonging. The Toolkit includes media articles, podcasts, book recommendations, and access to trainings. “One way we’ve deepened engagement in these programs is by creating a strong culture of peer participation, where everyone is challenged to discover new resources and bring them into conversations with colleagues,” says Sampson-Arokium. “Collectively, these events celebrate how the richness of our different backgrounds, voices, and perspectives makes Dechert’s culture unique and special.”