Diversity & Inclusion
At Taft, we have adopted and implemented a “Play to win” mindset and strategy. Playing to win doesn’t simply mean delivering winning and effective results for our many clients. It also means being a truly “winning” organization in all aspects of what we do.
It is a strategy of constantly raising the bar and measuring Taft against a hypothetically impossible standard to achieve – that of being the best we can possibly be in all that we do. To do that, we need to embrace, dedicate ourselves to, and treat with great respect all of our personnel, clients, communities, and other important relationships.
It means “giving back” and leveling the playing field for those less fortunate than us. And it means teamwork, comprehensive inclusion, and embracing diverse perspectives, cultures, and life experiences. When Taft sets the bar impossibly high and then delivers on its goals, every one of our constituencies benefits.
Taft’s five core values include integrity; quality of work; diversity and inclusiveness; having a respectful, professional, caring workplace culture; and teamwork. These core values are perhaps best exemplified in the firm’s significant commitment to diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion are not just words to us – in many ways, they are the intangible hallmark and fabric of who we are as an organization.
As part of our ongoing commitment to being the “employer of choice” in each of our markets, Taft attorneys are provided with a 16-week paid parental leave for attorneys and staff, regardless of gender and primary-care status, for the birth or adoption of a child. This policy places Taft at the forefront of supporting families during an important time in their lives and demonstrates the importance we place on work-life balance.
Every day in all that we do, we attempt to create a comprehensive “mindset of inclusiveness," which means that we strive to be an organization that is so inclusive in its thinking that we no longer need to talk about it. On a pervasive, firm-wide basis, we believe that a diverse culture benefits Taft professionals, its clients, and its other constituencies by fostering greater teamwork, creative and diverse perspectives, and opportunities for professional growth, personal satisfaction, and meaningful community involvement.
Our primary mission remains unchanged — to serve our clients at the highest standard of professional excellence by developing innovative, value-creating solutions that help them reach their goals. We simply cannot achieve our mission without our comprehensive approach to inclusiveness and all of the tremendous benefits that brings.
Taft knows that people with diverse experiences bring creative thinking, multiple perspectives, and innovative problem-solving techniques to issues in the practice of law. We are committed to fostering a culture among our attorneys and professional support staff that values differences, such as race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sexual identity, religion, age, physical ability, and socioeconomic background.
The following examples highlight Taft’s efforts to foster diversity and inclusion in the firm:
- Recruitment. Taft offers a fellowship program for qualifying first year law students. Up to seven fellowships are awarded each year. Taft actively recruits individuals from diverse backgrounds by working with student organizations and attending job fairs, conferences and workshops.
- Mentoring. Successful mentoring requires commitment and trust by both the mentee and the mentor. Taft has developed a diversity and inclusion mentoring program career development tool, where an identified group of associates from underrepresented classes are matched with a partner “champion” mentor. They work together to develop each mentee’s roadmap for long-term success with the firm.
- Retention. Taft’s long-term success relies on retaining attorneys and staff members. We nurture well-rounded professionals from a variety of backgrounds through mentoring, training, and professional development programs. Beyond retention, we provide attorneys and staff members with opportunities to enhance skill sets and grow as professionals.
- Work-life balance. Taft recognizes that a healthy balance between work life and private life is essential to lasting success, for both the individual and the firm. Taft offers alternative work-scheduling programs, remote access, flexible hours, and countless opportunities for meaningful community involvement both within and outside of Taft.
- Promotion and leadership. Diverse professionals are involved in many aspects of firm leadership as practice group chairs, committee participants, and senior management team members. They actively participate in recruiting and mentoring efforts across the firm.
These examples merely provide a snapshot of our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We constantly strive to find new and better ways to incorporate diversity and inclusion as a meaningful part of who we are as an organization and how we do business.
Awareness. Respect. Commitment.
Taft’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, comprised of attorneys and senior staff from across the firm’s offices, helps to drive the firm’s conversation, commitment, training, and action plans to foster diversity and inclusion in our firm and within the communities that we serve. Our efforts improve the work experience of our teams, and enhances productivity, retention, and client engagement.
At Taft, a bright light shines on what really matters—our clients, our attorneys, and our culture.
We know that people with varied backgrounds are an asset to our firm and help us provide the highest level of client solutions and service. The different perspectives fostered by race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, gender identity, socioeconomic background, physical abilities, among others, continue to frame our culture and contribute to our innovative problem-solving approach to the practice of law.
We welcome every person’s unique perspective and experience to advance our mission to best serve our clients and communities.
We are deliberate and strategic about our firm’s composition so that minority, female, and LGBTQ attorneys participate in leadership roles. As their careers progress, they become positioned to guide the firm into the future. Taft’s 2020 leadership team has the following composition of women, team members of color, and other diverse leaders:
- 56% of its executive committee
- 50% of its compensation committee
- 40% of its office partners-in-charge
- 33% of its practice group leaders
- 91% of its C-level officer positions
We embrace our differences by bringing together diverse attorney teams for client matters. A wider range of experience, skills, and perspectives enhances team performance, attracts superior talent, and better reflects our clients and our communities, thus serving our clients to the best of our abilities. By doing so, we create the freedom for our attorneys to achieve the extraordinary.
Our efforts make an impact, as evidenced that Taft has twice won the “Best in Class for Diversity in the Legal Profession” by the Commission on Economic Inclusion, a program of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the country’s largest chamber of commerce. In 2019, Taft attorneys from historically underrepresented classes were invited to a 2 ½-day retreat to share thoughts, perspectives, and ideas on how we can work more closely together. A panel discussion with five clients furthered our insights. This commitment of time helps to ensure that Taft continues on the path to be the inclusive employer of choice in all of our markets so that we attract the widest possible pool of attorney candidates to join our firm.
Adrian D. Thompson and Janica Pierce Tucker are co-chairs of Taft’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, which works in tandem with the Gender Advancement Committee, the Legal Recruitment team, and the Associate Advancement and Recruiting Committee to strengthen our recruitment, mentoring, retention, work-life balance, and leadership goals. In mid-2020, Taft designed a framework around six key themes, deployed by a task force model, consisting of leadership-appointed members spanning roles and geographies within the firm. To implement the themes and strengthen Taft’s culture and training processes, the task forces center around the six themes of Inclusion, Engagement, Innovation, Client Teams, Legal Assistant Model, and Paralegal Model.
In 2020, Taft joined the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA), a coalition of more than 125 law firms working collaboratively to address systemic racism. In addition, our Minnesota office is a founding member of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice (TCDIP), a consortium of law firms and corporations committed to attracting, recruiting, and retaining minority lawyers in the Twin Cities. We participated in the Diversity Lab’s Mansfield Rule 3.0. national initiative, designed to help close the gender and diversity gap by requiring participating law firms to consider at least 30% of women and diverse attorneys for promotions, senior level hiring, significant leadership roles, and inclusion on pitch teams. We were one of only 102 firms to earn the prestigious Mansfield Certification Plus status.
Taft attorneys and staff are involved in multiple civic groups that target diverse populations and those in need across the communities that we serve. Our involvement includes these organizations and more:
- Chicago Food Depository
- Cradles to Crayons Chicago
- Cynthia Blank’s Growing Hearts through Art
- De Paul Cristo Rey High School
- Habitat for Humanity
- Homefull Dayton
- House of Charity
- Indianapolis Public School (IPS) 58
- Project Linus
- Salvation Army
- St. Herman House of Cleveland
- The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation
- The Legal Aid Societies of Cleveland and Columbus
- The Sandwich Project
- Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio
We invest our time and resources in organizations that enhance professional development and bring opportunities that sponsor and promote diversity through connections with like-minded professionals. We are active with the following impressive organizations, and more.
- Charting Your Own Course (CYOC)
- Chicago Minority Supplier Diversity Council (CMSDC)
- Corporate Counsel Women of Color
- Greater Cincinnati Minority Counsel Program
- Greater Cleveland Partnership
- Indiana Latino Expo
- Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (IILP)
- John Mercer Langston Bar Association
- Just The Beginning – A Pipeline Organization
- Lambda Legal
- La Plaza Night of Americas
- Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD)
- Midwest Black Law Student Association
- Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers (MABL)
- Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association
- Minnesota Lavender Bar Association
- Minnesota Women Lawyers
- Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA)
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
- National Association of Asian Pacific American Bar Association
- National Minority Supplier Council (NMSDC)
- Ohio Women’s Bar Association
- Philippine American Society of Ohio
- Taiwanese-American Professionals, Chicago
- The National Black Lawyers
- The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio
- Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
- Urban Debate League
Every day, we strive to be an industry leader in everything we do. Diversity and inclusion are not just words to us – in many ways, they are the intangible hallmark and fabric of who we are as an organization, and are reflected in our core values of integrity, quality of work, a respectful, professional workplace culture, and teamwork.
Taft’s gender advancement committee comprises professionals from across the firm’s offices who lead the firm’s efforts, with the support of the firm’s executive committee and leadership, to develop, promote, and advance women attorneys within Taft, the legal profession, and the community. The committee also oversees all of Taft’s gender initiatives, including the firm’s women affinity groups in each office.
At Taft, the success of women is not just an ideal, it is the reality. We are proud of our efforts to be a leader in women’s advancement. Together we are instilling confidence, exuding excellence, and celebrating the capabilities of our women attorneys.
The mission of Taft’s Gender Advancement Committee, led by partners Tracy Betz and Sonya Jindal Tork, is to develop, promote, and advance women attorneys within Taft, the legal profession, and the community. The committee works with the firm’s executive committee and individual office leadership to identify potential barriers for women’s successes, whether real or perceived, and then to create a plan to eliminate those barriers.
Modern Workplace Culture
The Gender Advancement Committee focuses on creating a modern workplace culture that is inclusive, flexible, and supportive of a strong work/life balance. Taft is a leader in the industry with its 16-week paid parental leave policy regardless of gender and primary caregiver status, flexible work options, and a strong history of promoting women after one or more parental leaves.
The firm partners with two companies to implement additional family-centered paid benefits: CorporateCARE Solutions, which offers child and adult back-up care service for all attorneys and staff, and MilkStork, a breast milk storage and shipping program. The introduction of these family-centered paid benefits supports an overall productive work-life balance and helps eliminate the stress of travel for new mothers.
We value the leadership of our women attorneys and understand that promoting the success of our women attorneys benefits the entire firm and our respective communities. In 2020, women comprise:
- 44% of Taft’s Executive Committee
- 50% of Taft’s Compensation Committee
- 25% of Taft practice group chairs or co-chairs
- 25% of Taft partners
Additionally, the Women of Taft affinity groups in each market provide impactful professional development programming by offering business and relationship development opportunities and by creating an inclusive, supportive environment for our female professionals. Our affinity groups also strive to strengthen existing relationships with women clients who own or manage businesses or other organizations and to forge new and continuing relationships with professional and executive women in our community.
Our women attorneys are also highly accomplished leaders outside the firm, giving their legal talents to community and professional organizations to help them and our communities prosper. We also sponsor professional educational programs to benefit our female clients, and we participate in numerous associations devoted to the advancement of women across multiple industries.
The Gender Advancement Committee hosts an annual Women’s Symposium as part of the firm’s Attorney Retreat. The symposium provides an opportunity to review national benchmarks; redefine and redesign what makes a law firm great for women; and undertake best practices to attract, retain, and advance women at Taft. A highlight of the symposium is recognizing Taft’s trailblazers with the Shattered Glass Award. Recipients have made specific strides toward making Taft more inclusive and have actively pushed Taft to elevate the respect, involvement, and leadership opportunities for women attorneys.
Our efforts have made a difference, as evidenced by several recent accolades:
- In 2020, Taft earned its inaugural recognition as of the “Best Law Firms for Women” by Working Mother magazine. Taft was one of only 60 law firms to earn a spot on this prestigious list, which recognizes firms that utilize best practices in finding, retaining, promoting, and developing women lawyers.
- Taft was awarded a Gold Standard Certification by Women in Law Empowerment Forum LLC (WILEF). The WILEF Certification is reserved for law firms that demonstrate that women are active at the highest levels of leadership within the firm.
- Taft was named the Ohio Women's Bar Association 2019 Family Friendly Award recipient. The award is given each year to a legal employer who demonstrates a commitment to work-life balance and promotes a family-friendly workplace for lawyers in Ohio.
- Smart Business Magazine recognized Taft Cleveland as one of the region’s four progressive organizations for supporting and promoting women and addressing issues facing them in the workplace.
- Eighty-five of our women attorneys have been recognized in 2020 in external publications, including Best Lawyers, Benchmark Litigation, Chambers USA and Super Lawyers.
Women & Minority Owned Businesses
Taft attorneys understand the unique needs of businesses owned and controlled by women and minorities. We have a practice group that addresses these issues and a number of attorneys who have familiarity with specialized programs and processes designed to benefit women and minority-owned businesses. We help clients negotiate their way through the complex maze of applications and compliance to obtain access to those programs.