By MSR News Online
The Page Education Foundation recently convened its annual education seminar focused on eliminating bias in the law. Now in its fifth year, the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminar serves as a forum to build awareness of ethics and address matters that will shape the current and future legal community.
The seminar is an extension of the foundation’s efforts to financial support and fostering mentoring relationships with students of color pursuing post-secondary education, as well as honor founder Justice Alan Page’s career as a former judge on the Minnesota Supreme Court.
This year’s event, hosted April 17 at the Hilton, focused specifically on racial bias and raised more than $88K in funds that will go toward helping support Page Scholars who are majoring in pre-law, law enforcement or are in law school.
Foundation alumnae Kamyala Howard, MSW, LCSW, kicked off the seminar with an exercise on intercultural greetings. Every attendee received specific instructions prior to mingling with the other attendees and introducing themselves. Instructions included such prohibiting traditional greeting cues, such as smiling, touching, and eye contact.
The resulting discomfort launched an interactive discussion about intercultural communications, common biased interpretations of certain nonverbal cues, and how communities can engage with one another more effectively.
University of St. Thomas Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and public policy/leadership professor Dr. Artika R. Tyner followed Howard’s discussion by exploring how leaders can move from just studying and staffing for diversity to taking individual action and accountability.
Dr. Tyner, who is also a civil rights attorney and Page Scholar alumnae, shared practical strategies, which included not only looking for professionals of color to fill roles, but also using performance objectives and bonuses to incentive desired behaviors.
Her presentation touched on ways that ethnic and gender diversity resulted in companies outperforming less diverse companies. “Can you imagine…greater profitability and productivity in your organization?” asked Tyner. “Make this a lived reality by leveraging your leadership platform.”
Tyner also encouraged attendees to visit the American Bar Association Diversity and Inclusion Center for additional resources, and for senior leaders to take the PwC CEO Pledge to improve diversity and inclusion.
“This event opened the door to important conversations,” said Spiwe Jefferson, attorney at Blackwell Burke. “Understanding cultural differences in organizations and interactions is something we may experience, but don’t often talk about. We are honored once again to be a part of supporting the Page Foundation’s important work.”
—Information provided by Blackwell Burke P.A.
This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.