Thinking back over the events of Law Week, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on messages from Vernā Myers, our incredible keynote speaker at the Law Day Luncheon. Vernā’s message was about diversity, inclusion, and retention. And simply put, the secret to retention is inclusion.
One of the ways that Vernā suggested we do this is by “expanding our dance card.” Reach out of your inner or safe circle, and engage with people not typically on your dance card; begin to listen and to get know and learn more about others; learn about what makes you different, but also be open to learning about what makes you the same.
The weekend before Law Week I was invited to attend WDKX’s Women for Women Conference. Monroe County Bar Association President Connie Walker was speaking and my friend and colleague, Margaret Sanchez were moderating the panels, and I wanted to be there to support them. I was one of a handful of Caucasian women amidst a group of talented and successful women of color.
The two panels I heard shared wonderful pearls of wisdom directed to all of us in the room. Here are but a few:
- “Learn to value my time, because if I don’t, know one else will.”
- “Develop a “stick-to-itness” — stay with my convictions.”
- “A good leader has to be a good follower.”
- “That’s not the kind of boss I want to be.”
- “Learn to always smile; it changes your disposition.”
- “You keep moving forward. You don’t even go back to push yourself forward.”
- “Tell me who you’re walking with, and I will tell you who you are.”
- “Have strategic meetings with God, and together you can develop the strategy that works best for her life.”
- “Have enough confidence in the truth of who you are, that when you walk into a room, you understand that the atmosphere shifts because you are there.”
The common denominator running through this room was that we were a room full of grandmothers, mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters, wives, married women, divorced women, single mom’s, single women, and widows. But the one common denominator that did not escape any of us was that as women, all of us were caretakers in some capacity, whether it be at home, at work, or in our communities. It was an incredible experience for me, and one that I was most grateful to have been given the opportunity. It struck me that as the minority in the room, I felt welcomed and included. It made me think about whether I was always as welcoming and inclusive.
I was expanding my dance card, and I was being invited to dance. And because of that very brief experience, I made some new friends and acquaintances. On my radar will be more of these opportunities that help me expand my dance card.
It has been a few great weeks of listening and learning, and I am working on expanding my own dance card. What have you done lately to expand yours?
Thanks for checking in…