Inclusion and Diversity

OUR COMMITMENT TO INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY

Harris Beach strives to cultivate an inclusive workplace respecting the contributions of diverse individuals which empowers everyone and fosters innovative approaches that enhance the services we provide. Our mission is to excel as a leading multicultural law firm that reflects and builds upon the growing diversity of the communities and clients we serve.

Jim Spitz Harris Beach Inclusion and Diversity Quote

UNDERSTANDING INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY

Munesh Patel Inclusion and Diversity QuoteTo truly comprehend the separate concepts and practices of inclusion and diversity, it is important to understand how they interrelate. Inclusion is a mechanism to create a culture in which all individuals are treated respectfully and fairly, have equal access to resources and opportunities, and are valued for their contributions to an organization’s success. Diversity, narrowly defined, is a measure of the extent to which an organization employs people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, visions and views.

Our broader perspective of diversity goes beyond such visible aspects as race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual orientation (compositional diversity) to encompass the diversity of thought and perspective each individual brings to the workplace (cognitive diversity). Embracing diversity and promoting inclusion in all its forms allows us to attract and retain top talent, better understand our clients, collaborate and perform at our highest levels, and deliver the innovative solutions and value necessary to succeed in a complex interconnected world.

WELCOMING AND BUILDING ON INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY

Building on a tradition of inclusion, acceptance and mutual respect, Harris Beach launched a major diversity initiative in 2005. The following year, the firm hired the nationally recognized diversity training and consulting firm Roosevelt Thomas and Associates which conducted interviews, focus groups and diversity training, and assisted Harris Beach in the formation of our first Diversity Council. As our program has progressed, we have engaged The FutureWork Institute, a network of consultants whose clients include international law firms and leading global organizations. The FutureWork Institute supports our view of inclusion and diversity as a deeply rooted change process which drives respect, collaboration and innovation.

Today, the Harris Beach Council on Inclusion and Diversity is comprised of attorneys and staff from various departments and offices, and from a broad range of ethnic and academic backgrounds, experiences, cultures and lifestyles. The Council on Inclusion and Diversity is dedicated to the retention and advancement of all individuals.

PRACTICES AND PROGRAMS

Harris Beach has a legacy of making positive contributions in the communities we serve. The following practices and programs foster inclusion, diversity and community collaboration.

Accessibility
Harris Beach is committed to making all of its offices and facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities by meeting or exceeding the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We proactively consult with employees who have disabilities to determine whether structural and technological modifications are needed to improve their workplace environment.

Law School Prep Program
We support the Ronald H. Brown Law School Prep Program of St. John’s University School of Law. It is dedicated to helping college students who are part of ethnic, racial and socioeconomic groups typically underrepresented in large law firms learn about the legal profession and get into law school.

Legal Diversity Clerkship Program
Harris Beach is a founding member of the Monroe County Bar Association’s Legal Diversity Clerkship Program which provides paid summer work experience to law students of historically underrepresented groups within the legal profession. The firm has hired a number of program participants and actively supports the program’s long-term goal of increasing inclusiveness and diversity in the legal profession in upstate New York.

Diversity of Practice
Harris Beach and our subsidiaries provide a full range of legal and professional services for clients across New York state, as well as nationally and internationally. The Harris Beach family includes more than 40 practice groups and industry teams and three nonlegal consulting subsidiaries, all of which work in a highly collaborative manner that effectively leverages specialized knowledge, experience and team synergies to serve the full range of our clients’ needs.

Staff Recruiting
Harris Beach has programs with community colleges and undergraduate colleges to identify students who upon graduation would be candidates for employment in support staff positions at the firm. The programs consist of in-class lectures on preparing for employment provided by Harris Beach. In turn, the colleges provide recommendations for potential job candidates based upon students’ overall academic and extracurricular achievements.

Diversity Compliance
Our attorneys help organizations maintain compliance with New York state procurement regulations related to diversity by partnering with Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) when proposing or conducting business within the state. Harris Beach also assists clients with obtaining MWBE certification and, whenever appropriate, uses MWBE partners in the delivery of our legal services.

Equal Employment Opportunity Policy
The firm’s policy prohibiting unlawful discrimination applies to all aspects of employment, including hiring, placement, assignment of duties, training, promotion, compensation & benefits and termination.
It is the policy of Harris Beach PLLC that all employees enjoy a positive, respectful and productive work environment, free from behavior, actions or language constituting unlawful harassment. Accordingly, harassment of any kind based on an individual’s race or color, sex, age, religion, national origin, marital status, disability, veteran status, genetic predisposition, carrier status, sexual orientation, citizenship status or any other legally protected status is strictly prohibited.

Ongoing Inclusion and Diversity Education
Harris Beach holds educational programs to support a culture where everyone is mindful of the opportunities realized by embracing inclusion and diversity. The firm’s new-hire orientation provides an understanding of our inclusion and diversity mission and organizational practices. Each new hire receives DiSC® training to enhance productivity, teamwork and communication. Our past awareness programs have covered: generational differences, micro inequities, unconscious bias, working with people with disabilities and managing conflict.

Work-Life Balance
Harris Beach supports work-life balance in many ways including flexible work schedules, remote work connectivity and the ability for attorneys with part-time schedules to remain on the partnership track. Other firm benefits that promote a healthy work-life balance include maternity and paternity leave, retirement savings and financial planning support, fitness benefits, summer early out program and healthy living programs such as fitness and smoking cessation support and a firm-wide wellness initiative.

LEADERSHIP AND AFFILIATIONS

Harris Beach Inclusion and Diversity Float ImageOur attorneys have taken or currently hold leadership roles in associations promoting inclusion and diversity including the:

  • Adirondack Women’s Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Capital District Women’s Bar Association
  • Defense Research Institute Diversity Committee
  • Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys
  • National Bar Association
  • National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Rochester Black Bar Association
  • South Asian Bar Association of New York
  • Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York

 

Professional Organizations
Harris Beach supports our attorneys and staff management with their involvement in the inclusion and diversity initiatives of regional and national professional organizations.

Workforce Diversity Network
The firm is a member of the Workforce Diversity Network, the nation’s leading network of professionals and organizations dedicated to professional development, understanding, promotion and management of inclusion and diversity as an essential part of organizational success.

RECOGNITION

Harris Beach’s inclusion and diversity recognition and awards include the:

  • Puerto Rican Bar Association’s Law Firm Diversity Award
  • HR Excellence Award in the diversity excellence category from the Buffalo Niagara Human Resources Association
  • Employer Support Freedom Award from the Secretary of Defense – the Department of Defense’s highest award given to civilian employers
  • Rochester Black Bar Association’s Diversity Recognition Award for its committed participation, support and leadership in the Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship Program
  • Family Friendly Employer Award from the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys and the Monroe County Bar Association

Firm attorneys have received the following inclusion and diversity recognition and awards:

  • Harris Beach CEO James A. Spitz Jr., the Profiles in Diversity Journal CEO Leadership in Action Award™, recognizing CEOs who fully support their organizations’ inclusion and diversity initiatives
  • Harris Beach Partner H. Todd Bullard received the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School Students of Color Distinguished Alumni Award and the Rochester Black Bar Association’s Trailblazer Award