Diversity & Inclusion

undefined

 

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.

Adrian Thompson
Chief Diversity Officer, Cleveland
Co-Partner-in-Charge, and Member of Executive Committee

Robert Hicks
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. 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 and authentic perspective to advance our mission to best serve our clients and the communities where we work and live. We embrace our differences by recruiting, hiring, and bringing together diverse 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 abilities.

We are deliberate and strategic about our firm’s leadership composition so that minority, female, and LGBTQ attorneys participate in important roles. As their careers progress, they become positioned to guide the firm into the future. Taft’s 2021 leadership team has the following composition of women, team members of color, and other diverse leaders:

67% of our executive committee. 54% of our compensation committee. 45% of our office partners-in-charge. 36% of our practice group leaders. 92% of our C-level officer positions.

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 2021, Rita McNeil Danish was named Taft's Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Strategic Business Partner. She infuses DEI into Taft’s culture across our offices and in the communities that we serve.

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Inclusive Growth and Development

Taft’s Inclusive Growth and Development is led by a team of diverse 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 recruitment of attorneys and professionals of color, retention of our current Taft team, and placement of Taft team members in positions of influence and growth potential.

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.

Retreat

In 2019, Taft attorneys from historically underrepresented classes participated in a 2.5-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.

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.

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.

Leadership

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 2021, women comprise:

50% of Taft’s Executive Committee. 50% of Taft’s Compensation Committee. 32% of Taft practice group chairs or co-chairs. 33% of Taft partners. 83% of Taft’s C-level executives.

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.

Continued Progress

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.

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 
Lead Attorneys:


Elizabeth Babbit
Partner

 
Gabriella Dubsky
Associate

Women of Taft Cincinnati
Lead Attorneys:


Jeanne Cors
Partner

Sanna-Rae Taylor
Partner

Women of Taft Cleveland
Lead Attorneys:


Julie Crocker
Partner

Brandi Weekley
Partner

Women of Taft Columbus
Lead Attorneys:


Jessica Mager
Partner

Katie Wallrabenstein

Associate

Women of Taft Dayton
Lead Attorney:


Suzanne Sumner
Partner

Women of Taft Indianapolis
Lead Attorneys:


Kim DalSanto

Associate

Ann McCready
Partner

Women of Taft Minneapolis
Lead Attorneys:


Blair Harrington

Associate

Amanda Juelson

Partner

 

A Message From Taft Leadership: Reaffirming Our Commitment to Diversity

6/3/20

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

4/21/21

“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.

Accolades

Our efforts have made a difference, as evidenced by several recent accolades:

  • In 2021, Taft was recognized by Seramount (formerly Working Mother Media) as one of the "Best Law Firms for Women." This is the second consecutive year Taft has made the list. The list, which only includes 50 law firms, recognizes firms that utilize best practices in recruiting, retaining, promoting, and developing women lawyers.  
  • 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 earned Mansfield Certification Plus status in 2020. Our firm was one of only 102 law firms to participate in the Mansfield Rule Certification process, which measures whether law firms affirmatively considered at least 30% women, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions.
  • 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.
  • Eighty-five of our women attorneys have been recognized in 2020 in external publications, including Best LawyersBenchmark LitigationChambers USA, and Super Lawyers.
  • 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.

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:

  • 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 many impressive organizations, including the following.

  • 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

Jump to: Gender Advancement Committee

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.

Photo of Adrian D. Thompson
Adrian D. Thompson 
Co-Partner-in-Charge / Chief Diversity Officer / Diversity & Inclusion Committee Co-Chair
Cleveland
Photo of Janica Pierce Tucker
Janica Pierce Tucker 
Partner-in-Charge / Diversity & Inclusion Committee Co-Chair 
Columbus 
Photo of Stacia A. Buechler
Stacia A. Buechler 
Partner 
Indianapolis
 
Nick Cobb
Director of Operations & Recruiting
Cincinnati
 Photo of Kiamesha Colom
Kiamesha-Sylvia G. Colom
Partner
Indianapolis
 
Julie A. Crocker
Partner
Cleveland
 Photo of Rita McNeil Danish
Rita McNeil Danish
Partner
Columbus
 
Carl L. Drummer
Senior VP and Co-Chair, Public Affairs Strategies Group
Indianapolis
Mike Etienne
Associate
Indianapolis
JoZeff W. Gebolys
Associate
Cleveland
 Photo of Graham C. Grady
Partner 
Chicago
 Photo of Zachary S. Heck
Zachary S. Heck
Associate
Dayton
Aaron M. Herzig
Partner
Cincinnati
Robert J. Hicks
Chairman and Managing Partner
Indianapolis
Andrew T. Howard
Partner
Minneapolis 
 
Amanda Juelson
Partner
Minneapolis
Photo of Susan B. Kilkenny
Susan B. Kilkenny 
Chief Marketing Officer 
Indianapolis

Richard O. Kissel II
Partner
Indianapolis
 Photo of Chou-il Lee
Chou-il Lee 
Partner
Indianapolis
 
Courtney Lynch
Associate
Cincinnati
Photo of Kathy Major
Kathy Major 
Business Development Director - Cleveland
 
Pablo Petrozzi
Partner
Chicago

 

Ann Rainhart
Chief Strategy Officer
Minneapolis
 Photo of John M. Riccione
John M. Riccione 
Partner 
Chicago

Michael K. Robertson
Partner
Columbus
Photo of Mary L. Rust
Mary L. Rust 
Partner 
Cincinnati
 
Daniel R. Saeedi

Partner
Chicago
 Photo of Brianna Skelly
Brianna M. Skelly
Partner 
Chicago

Marquis D. Tapplin

Associate
Minneapolis
Photo of Kim R. Walberg
Kim R. Walberg 
Partner 
Chicago
 Photo of Lisa M. Watson
Lisa M. Watson 
Chief Recruiting Officer
Indianapolis
 
Hayley B. Williams
Partner
Cleveland

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. 

Photo of Tracy N. Betz
Tracy N. Betz 
Gender Advancement Committee Co-Chair / Partner 
Indianapolis 
Photo of Sonya S. Jindal
Sonya Jindal Tork 
Gender Advancement Committee Co-Chair / Partner 
Cincinnati
Photo of Kiamesha Colom
Kiamesha-Sylvia G. Colom
Partner
Indianapolis
Photo of Jeanne M. Cors
Jeanne M. Cors 
Partner 
Cincinnati
Photo of Brandon Dobyns
Brandon Dobyns
Associate 
Dayton

Will Gardner
Partner
Indianapolis
Britt M. Gilbertson
Partner
Minneapolis
Michael D. Gordon
Partner
Minneapolis

Heather Hawkins
Partner
Cincinnati

Ron Holman
Partner
Cleveland

Jennifer Horn
Senior Counsel
Cleveland
Caryn A. Kaufman
Partner
Columbus
Payal Keshvani
Partner
Chicago
Photo of Susan B. Kilkenny
Susan B. Kilkenny 
Chief Marketing Officer 
Indianapolis
Photo of Ralph W. Kohnen
Ralph W. Kohnen 
Partner 
Cincinnati
Photo of Erin Lynch Cordier
Erin Lynch Cordier 
Partner
Chicago 
Melissa A. Macchia
Partner
Indianapolis
Photo of Jessica Mager
Jessica Mager 
Partner 
Columbus, Delaware
Andrea Markstrom
Chief Information Officer
Minneapolis
Photo of Russell C. Menyhart
Russell C. Menyhart 
Partner 
Indianapolis
Photo of Andi Metzel
Andi M. Metzel
Partner 
Indianapolis

Patrick Palascak
Partner
Cincinnati

Lindsey Rothrock
Of Counsel
Indianapolis

Jennifer Snead
Partner
Cincinnati
Sanna-Rae Taylor
Associate
Cincinnati
Photo of Katie Wallrabenstein
Katie Wallrabenstein
Associate 
Columbus, Delaware
Photo of Brandi N. Weekley
Brandi N. Weekley 
Partner 
Cleveland

Philip Williamson
Partner
Cincinnati
Photo of Amelia Workman Farago
Amelia Workman Farago
Partner 
Cleveland