As a part of the 2003 Strategic Plan, the firm created a Diversity Committee to develop and implement a written Diversity Action Plan and to advise the firm on all issues impacting law firm diversity. The committee is co-chaired by Anne E. Gorham, Demetrius O. Holloway, and Alexandra MacKay.
The Action Plan was rolled out firm-wide in October 2004 and addresses five key areas:
- Firm-wide commitment. Includes top-down support and ongoing education.
- Entry-level recruitment. Focuses on expanding the firm's minority candidate pool, since Stites & Harbison's entry-level gender statistics exceed national averages. Fifty-five percent of the firm's new associates hired in the past five years are women.
- Lateral recruitment. Includes a lateral hiring strategy designed to build a "critical mass" of minority and women attorneys across all experience levels of the firm.
- Retention and advancement. Anticipates a review and modification of existing parental leave policies, the development of a written alternate/flexible work schedule policy, and a mentoring program that ensures support and development for all associates.
- Community outreach. Foresees increased support and connection with women and minority-owned businesses, professional organizations and diverse communities.
The goal of the plan is to create policies and programs that will result in the recruitment, hiring, development, promotion and retention of personnel with richly diverse backgrounds, talents, and perspectives.
Stites & Harbison's increased focus on diversity brought immediate results through our summer associate and entry-level hiring. The firm began attending and participating in minority job fairs during the 2003 recruiting season and has incorporated three minority job fairs into its standard recruiting processes. Additionally, the publishers of MultiCultural Law magazine recognized the firm as a Top 25 Law Firm for African Americans and a Top 50 Law Firm for Associates in 2006. In 2005 and 2008, the magazine recognized the firm as a Top 100 Law Firm for Diversity. Click here for recent hiring statistics and results of our diversity efforts for our summer associate and entry-level hiring.
Also in early 2003, the firm's women attorneys established the S.W.I.F.T. (Stites Women Investing in our Future Together) initiative to enhance mentoring, support, and networking opportunities for women in the firm. SWIFT typically meets four times per year (twice by video-conference and twice in person) to address topics selected by the women attorneys. The SWIFT in-person events are held in January and June and hosted in our various city locations on a rotating basis.
To date, topics and programs have included effective communication and networking, business etiquette, and planning for success. Most recently in June 2010, SWIFT met at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville to discuss the "Rules of the Game: Success Strategies for Women Attorneys." Jane Pigott, Managing Director of R3 Group, LLC, gave an interactive presentation on women becoming leaders in law firms.
Past SWIFT Events include:
- In 2009, SWIFT met at Via Vite Restaurant in downtown Cincinnati (due to its proximity to the Kentucky Bar Association’s Annual Conference). Tracy LaLonde, a Partner at the Akina Corporation, presented "Putting the Working in Networking."
- In 2008, SWIFT met at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville to discuss "Gender and Communication in the Legal Profession." Mary S. Vaughn, Chair and Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Belmont University, made a presentation that stimulated an interesting and lively discussion.
- In 2007, SWIFT met at Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky, and held a client forum in which three national corporate counsel shared their views about and expectations of their outside counsel and effective lawyer-client relationships. This program, entitled "Taking Care of Business," received rave reviews from everyone involved.
- In 2006, SWIFT met at Woodford Reserve Distillery near Lexington, Kentucky, where Kathleen C. Freeble, Office of Regional Counsel, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, presented a program entitled “Applying Life Skills to Negotiation: Things You Already Know!” Ms. Freeble discussed whether and how a negotiation can be impacted by the importance of maintaining a long-term relationship, the importance of trust, and potential communication challenges.
- In 2005, SWIFT met at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, where Cordell Parvin presented “Your Life, Your Future – A Plan for Success.” He discussed the importance of taking time to assess and clarify your purpose, vision, core values, goals, life responsibilities as a part of developing a career plan.
- In 2004, SWIFT met in Nashville, Tennessee, to network and participate in a program by Ann Marie Sabath of At Ease, Inc. Ms. Sabath discussed strategies for enhancing client relationships, ways for making a powerful first impression, the most commonly asked questions about greetings, business conversation, and overcoming mingle-phobia.
Here are some other ways in which Stites & Harbison supports diversity in our communities and the legal profession:
- Atlanta Legal Diversity Consortium - Charter Member
- Kentuckiana Minority Business Council - Member and supporter of KMBC
- Presenter and host of legal seminars for KMBC (Strategic Alliances - Mergers, Acquisitions and Joint Ventures; Intellectual Property)
- Kentuckiana Minority Business Council - Member Brian Cromer serves on the Board of Directors
- 2004, 2005, and 2006 Kentucky SHRM Conferences - Presenting Sponsor
- Louisville Urban League - Chairman, Kennedy Helm, serves on the Board of Directors
- Louisville Urban League Youth Golf Program - Sponsor
- Louisville Urban League Diversity Soiree - Sponsor
- Business Women First (Business First publication) - Sponsor
- Center for Women and Families - Center Circle Sponsor
- Women's Business & Leadership Conference - Sponsor
- Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law - Sponsor
- Courier-Journal, Civil Rights Educational Supplement - Sponsor