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 an inclusive culture that promotes equality and equal opportunities 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 eight 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 historically disadvantaged and/or 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, inclusion, and equality in our workplace. We constantly strive to find new and better ways to incorporate those values as a meaningful part of who we are as an organization and how we do business.
Chief Diversity Officer, Cleveland
, and Member of Executive Committee
Taft Chairman and Managing Partner
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. We welcome every person’s unique and authentic perspective to advance our mission to best serve our clients and the communities where we work and live. We embrace a broad pipeline of talent by recruiting, hiring, and bringing together exceptional attorney talent to serve our clients. A wide range of experience and skillsets enhances team performance and further attracts superior talent, thus enabling us to serve our clients to the best of our ability.
We are inclusive and strategic about our firm’s leadership composition to ensure that all have an equitable opportunity to advance and thrive in important roles. As careers progress, leadership positions are available to help guide the firm into the future. Taft’s leadership team has the following composition of women, team members of color, LGBTQ+, and other diverse leaders:
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.
Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
Inclusive Growth and Development
Taft’s Inclusive Growth and Development initiative is led by a team of firm leaders who focus their efforts on making Taft one of the top picks for inclusive work teams. Our collective actions enhance individual and firm success through opening the door wider and ensuring that opportunities for advancement are inclusive and equitable for all.
Inclusion Task Force
In mid-2020, we deployed a task force model based on a framework designed around six key themes (Inclusion, Engagement, Innovation, Client Teams, Legal Assistant Model, and Paralegal Model) to strengthen Taft’s culture and training processes across our footprint.
Every day, we strive to be an industry leader in everything we do. Inclusion and equity 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.
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.
Gender Advancement Initiatives
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 2022, women comprised:
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 program as part of the firm’s Attorney Retreat. The program 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 program 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.
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.
Women of Taft Affinity Groups
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.
Women of Taft Chicago
Women of Taft Cincinnati
Women of Taft Cleveland
Women of Taft Columbus
Ukeme Awakessien Jeter
Women of Taft Dayton
Women of Taft Detroit
Women of Taft Indianapolis
Women of Taft Minneapolis
A Message From Taft Leadership: Reaffirming Our Commitment to Diversity
The tragic death of George Floyd brings back into focus that our country must address the problems of social and legal injustice, racism, and prejudice, wherever and however they may exist. This heartbreaking situation, coupled with the disparate impact of the COVID-19 crisis, highlights the inequities that African American and other diverse communities continue to face every day. It also strengthens Taft’s determination and commitment to do more as individuals, as a firm, and with our communities.
Read the full release here.
A Joint Statement from Adrian Thompson, Chief Diversity Officer, and Bob Hicks, Chairman and Managing Partner
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal.” The Declaration of Independence.
Taft is committed to these ideals. Taft stands for racial and social justice, equal opportunity, the extinguishment of all forms of hatred, and peaceful and balanced solutions. It is time. America took a small, but significant step on the path toward justice, as a diverse jury of his peers found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of all charges for his actions in taking the life of George Floyd.
Read the full release here.
Our efforts have made a difference, as evidenced by several recent accolades:
- In 2023, Taft was recognized by Seramount as one of the “Best Law Firms for Women & Diversity.” This is the third year Taft has made the list (the firm was also recognized in 2020 and 2021). The list, which only includes 50 law firms in the U.S., recognizes firms that utilize best practices in recruiting, retaining, promoting, and developing women lawyers and lawyers from underrepresented groups, including people of color.
- Taft participated in Diversity Lab’s Mansfield Rule 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. In 2020, we were one of only 102 firms to earn the prestigious Mansfield Certification Plus status. We continued our progress and earned Mansfield Certification 4.0 status in 2021, 5.0 status in 2022, and 6.0 status in 2023.
- Taft was honored with a “Your Honor Award” from the Midwest Region of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) in the virtual client experience category, designed to highlight programs, special projects, initiatives, or processes developed by a law firm to connect with clients as a result of the switch to remote work environments in 2020. The Women of Taft groups in several markets chose to replace their signature Support Her Endeavors (SHE) events with thoughtful gift boxes filled with products purchased from local women-owned businesses.
- 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.
- For three consecutive years, Taft has 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.
- 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.
- 133 of our women attorneys have been recognized in 2022 in external publications, including Best Lawyers, Benchmark Litigation, Chambers USA, and Super Lawyers.
Partnerships and Organizations
Taft is a member of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA), a coalition that has grown to nearly 300 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.
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:
- Black United Fund of Michigan
- Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce
- Chicago Food Depository
- Cradles to Crayons Chicago
- Cynthia Blank’s Growing Hearts through Art
- De Paul Cristo Rey High School
- Detroit Hispanic Development
- Habitat for Humanity
- Holocaust Memorial Center
- Homefull, Dayton
- House of Charity
- Indianapolis Public School (IPS) 58
- Project Healthy Community – Hope Circles
- 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 many impressive organizations, including the following.
- Charting Your Own Course (CYOC)
- Chicago Minority Supplier Diversity Council (CMSDC)
- Corporate Counsel Women of Color
- D Augustus Straker Bar Association
- Greater Cincinnati Minority Counsel Program
- Greater Cleveland Partnership
- Indiana Latino Expo
- Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (IILP)
- Italian American Bar Association
- Jewish Bar Association of Michigan
- 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
- Wolverine Bar Association
- The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio
- Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
- Women Lawyers Association of Michigan
- Urban Debate League
Diversity and Inclusion Committee
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 enhance productivity, retention, and client engagement.
LGBTQ+ Sub Committee
Gender Advancement Committee
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.