Archive for the ‘Diversity Lunch-and-Learn’ Category.

Warner holds “World Café” to Discuss “Choosing Civility”

Warner Norcross & Judd held a “world café” discussion of this year’s One Book, One Firm selection, Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct , by P.M. Forni.  Attorneys and staff members participated in small group discussions of civiity.  The discussion was “served” in three courses, along with the meal.  During the first course, participants worked on developing a definition of civility and discussed the implications of that meaning for them.

After the first course, participants changed tables and joined a new group for the second course, where they discussed the relevance of Forni’s 25 rules of civility to Warner Norcross and tried to identify the five rules that are most important to the firm.

For the third course, the participants once again changed tables and joined a new group. During this course (and over dessert) they discussed the obstacles to living by the rules of civility and what they can do individually to support the firm in choosing civility.

The discussion was moderated by Dr. Beth Page who leads the Talent Management Practice in the Great Lakes Region for Right Management.

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Panel to Discuss “The Arrival”

The ArrivalWarner Norcross & Judd’s One Book, One Firm program continues on Tuesday, July 21, with a panel discussion about this year’s OBOF selection, The Arrival, by Shaun Tan.  Earlier this summer, Nardos Osterhart performed her presentation, Hafrican, in which she told us her story of emigrating to Oklahoma City with her family from Ethiopia when she was five.  Nardos will join us once again as part of the panel on July 21.

Joining her on the panel will be:

  • Alice Kennedy –Alice is the founder and director of Diversity Theatre and works in talent recruitment for Gordon Food Services.  Alice was a presenter for our first One Book, One Firm selection in 2008 (Stealing Buddha’s Dinner).   Alice and her family were refugees who fled South Vietnam when it fell to the Viet Cong in 1975.
  • William Blacquiere – Bill is the President and CEO of Bethany Christian Services.  In partnership with local churches and community agencies, Bethany Christian Services welcomes refugee and immigrant families and helps them adjust to a new life in the United States.  Bethany offers a wide range of services to refugees, including refugee and immigrant foster care, resettlement services, and supportive trauma treatment plans for refugees and immigrants who are victims of torture.
  • Dr. Simin Naz Beg — Simin specializes in hospice and palliative medicine and is a member of the  Spectrum Health medical group where her work focuses on improving access to care for vulnerable populations.  Simin, originally from Pakistan, earned her medical degree from Nishtar Medical College and completed her graduate medical education at Michigan State University.

The Arrival is a story of one immigrant’s experience leaving his family and his home to find opportunity in a strange and wondrous place.  Along the way he is helped by other immigrants who share their stories.  The book is a graphic novel without any words. The author relies upon the pictures to tell the stories.

Here are two brief videos on Youtube that serve as a nice introduction to the book. The first is an abridged version of the story set to music. The second is a review of the book delivered in sign language with English subtitles. Author Shaun Tan came across this review and was struck by the parallel between the experiences of immigrants with the experiences of persons with disabilities.


Panel Discusses Integration in America at Warner Norcross

As part of the firm’s eight annual One Book, One Firm program, Warner Norcross & Judd assembled a distinguished panel to discuss this year’s One Book, One Firm selection, Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange History of Integration in America, by Tanner Colby.  The panel included, civil rights attorney Stephen Drew, Father John Geaney, the Rector of the Cathedral of Saint Andrew in Grand Rapids, and Nancy Haynes, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan.  Warner Norcross & Judd’s Diversity Partner, Rodney Martin, moderated the discussion.

Some of My Best Friends Are Black looks at efforts to integrate schools, neighborhoods, the workplace, and the church in the second half of the twentieth century.  All of the panelists agreed that the book provided fresh and surprising insights.

When asked to describe what we mean by “integration,” Nancy Haynes distinguished it from desegregation.  “Desegregation,” she said, “means removing the barriers.  True integration happens when you have meaningful, intentional interactions.” She went on, “integration to be successful has to be an intentional choice.”

Father Geaney agreed, noting “You have to respect peoples’ desire for faith and for community. You can’t force these issues.”

The panel discussed how efforts at integration, if handled without respect for all people and their cultures, are not likely to succeed.  Stephen Drew recounted how efforts to desegregate Grand Rapids by closing South High School and busing the students across town, took a heavy toll on the surrounding neighborhood.  Nancy Haynes, whose office is just a block from the old South High School, agreed that closing the school “ripped the heart out of the community.” If integration is not done correctly, she noted, “everything can be lost and it can take years and years and years to rebuild it.”

Father Geaney recounted his service to St. Augustine Church, an African American Church in South Memphis, Tennessee, and how the church was a vital part of African American culture.  “There is a larger argument about whether we should abandon one culture in order to integrate,” he said.  “Should we abandon all the beauty that comes from the African American culture and make it a polyglot? That would be a shame.”

Stephen Drew said it doesn’t matter whether people tend to worship among people like themselves, after all people have many different religious traditions.  “It is what happens afterwards and whether you take what you learn in church and apply it to treat everybody equally outside of church,” he said.

Father Geaney asked, “When was the last time somebody that we went to dinner with was black or Hispanic?  When was the last time that we went to a movie with some of our black friends?” He continued, “These are the moments when we become human. These are the things that we do that say these are our friends.  These are the people we want to live with. These are the people we want in our neighborhood. Seems to me that’s the level where you begin. And our society will be integrated faster if we could somehow get to that point of friendship with one another.”

As the program came to a close, Stephen Drew praised the book for identifying and explaining the systems that brought about segregation and reminded the audience that we also have to address those systems and policies, such as mass incarceration, that remain in place today that hold back the African American community and work against an integrated society.

In closing, Rodney Martin noted the obvious parallels between desegregation and integration, on the one hand, and diversity and inclusion, on the other.  “Like desegregation in Colby’s book,” Martin said, “today’s focus on diversity is too often only about ‘racial accounting,’ with insufficient regard for whether organizations and communities are actually inclusive.”  According to Martin, Colby’s thesis is that integration is more than moving people around to achieve a racial balance. Integration requires a conscious choice. Colby writes: “Integration doesn’t do anything. It is something that is done by people and only by mutual choice.”

“Like integration in our society,” Martin said, “inclusion in our schools, neighborhoods, churches, and in our law firm, is a matter of choice. It cannot be mandated by policies. Instead, it requires a deeply personal commitment involving person-to-person relations.” Martin challenged those in the audience to choose to practice include, in order that we can achieve the full benefit of our diversity.

Warner Norcross Reads, Discusses Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking for its One Book, One Firm Series

The law firm of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has chosen Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain as the 2013 selection for its One Book, One Firm series. 

Now in its sixth year, the popular One Book, One Firm series encourages the entire law firm to read the same book, then provides opportunities to create a series of firm-wide discussions based on the common experience.  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking was inspired by Cain’s experience while practicing corporate law on Wall Street – as an introvert. 

Attorneys and staff from the seven offices of Warner Norcross across Michigan will join in a special lunch-and-learn program on Monday, July 15 to discuss the book.  The program will be led by Joe Day, a partner in Pondera Advisors, a leadership consulting practice that he co-founded in 2006. 

A self-described introvert, Day spent eight years as a professional hockey player, captaining four different teams and receiving numerous awards.  He will offer his insights into how introverts and extroverts can work together in an inclusive organization and, more generally, how personality type differences impact us at work and at home. 

“We often think about diversity and inclusion in terms of race and gender and, indeed, our past book selections have reflected this,” said Diversity Partner Rodney Martin. “There’s a growing movement, though, to expand the meaning to reflect other aspects of diversity and inclusion, such as cognitive or emotional diversity. 

“The book selected for this summer’s reading series, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, will allow all of us to reflect on the different approaches that people bring to the table in an effort to promote greater respect and understanding.” 

One Book, One Firm was launched in 2008 as part of the law firm’s ongoing diversity and inclusion initiatives.  Additional books in the series have included: 

  • Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, a memoir about the experience of a Vietnamese girl growing up in West Michigan
  • Hands of My Father, the story of a hearing child who served as the go-between for his deaf parents and the hearing world
  • The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work, a work that analyzes the fundamental differences between how men and women operate within companies
  • The Help, the debut novel by author Kathryn Stockett that explores the relationships between black maids and the white families they work for and the children they raise in Jackson, Miss. 
  • The Spirit Catches You and Then You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman, a book about the clash of traditional culture with modern medical culture.

Warner Norcross Reads, Discusses “The Help” for its One Book, One Firm Series

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has chosen New York Times bestseller “The Help” as the 2011 selection for its One Book, One Firm series.

Now in its fourth year, the popular One Book, One Firm series encourages the entire law firm to read the same book, then provides opportunities to create a series of firm-wide discussions based on the common experience. “The Help” is a debut novel by author Kathryn Stockett that explores the relationships between black maids and the white families they work for and the children they raise in Jackson, Mississippi. Set during the 1960s, the novel is told from three alternating perspectives as two African American maids and the college-educated daughter of a white family who decide to write a book and share their stories.

On Wednesday, July 13, attorneys and staff from Warner’s offices across Michigan joined in a special lunch-and-learn program to hear a panel discuss “The Help.” The panel featured Lois Smith Owens, professor and Director of Recruitment and Admissions at the School of Social Work at Grand Valley State University, Jeanne Arnold, vice president for inclusion and equity at GVSU, and Rebecca Knack, a retired English teacher from East Grand Rapids High School who grew up in the 1950s in Laurel, Miss. and Memphis, Tenn.

“It was a wonderful discussion,” said Diversity Partner Rodney Martin. “The book has been enormously popular but the author has also been criticized for her portrayal of African-American characters. The panel did an excellent job helping us to evaluate the book and the criticisms.  The audience especially appreciated the the personal stories the panelists shared with us.”

In addition to encouraging attorneys and staff to read the book, the firm is sponsoring a firm-wide movie night to watch the movie adaptation of “The Help” when it is released later this month.  This will be followed by opportunities for firm members to participate in small group discussions.

One Book, One Firm was launched in 2008 as part of the law firm’s ongoing diversity and inclusion initiatives. Additional books in the series have included:

  • “Stealing Buddha’s Dinner,” a memoir about the experience of a Vietnamese girl growing up in West Michigan
  • “Hands of My Father,” the story of a hearing child who served as the go-between for his deaf parents and the hearing world
  • “The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work,” a work that analyzes the fundamental differences between how men and women operate within companies

• WNJ Diversity Video Library

Video LibraryWe have added a Video Library to Warner Norcross & Judd‘s Diversity News blog.  The link to the Video Library can be found on the menu bar, above.  In the Video Library, you will currently find videos of:

  • The One Book, One Firm Discussion of “Hands of My Father,” by John McKendry and Katie Prins
  • This year’s and last year’s Grand Race Road Rally;
  • Melita Travis-Johnson’s 2008 talk on “Raising Culturally Competent Children”; and
  • The 2008 One Book, One Firm Celebration of Tet.

From time to time, we will post additional videos from the firm’s diversity programs.