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May 15, 2013
Equal Opportunities Section to merge with Diversity and Inclusion Committee

The Equal Opportunities Law Section will be merged with the Special Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, which in turn will become a Bar standing committee under recommendations approved by the Bar Board of Governors.

The board, at its April 19 meeting in Tampa, accepted a variety of recommendations from the Program Evaluation Committee on the Bar’s diversity operations, which included merging the section and the committee.

Aside from the diversity matters, the committee will be presenting recommendations and findings from a number of program reviews at the board’s May 31 meeting in Tampa, Chair John Stewart reported.

The board approved the diversity special committee in the 2009-10 Bar year, which means the committee was up for an automatic review this year, Stewart told the board.

He added that the PEC at the same time was asked to review EOLS.

“That is a section that has struggled in terms of membership and finances, in many respects not due to fault of their own, but because of the Special Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, and also all of the sections’ and the Bar’s efforts on diversity has sort of usurped the power and authority of that section,” Stewart said.

The recommendations included continuing the Bar’s grant program to local bars for diversity and inclusion activities.

“They looked at this very, very carefully, and they were very sensitive in how they went about looking at this, and they were very thorough,” said Bar President Gwynne Young.

“I don’t think we could have done a more thorough review, and I think the recommendations they have come up with are excellent.”

Stewart said the PEC will have the necessary Bar rule changes to create the new committee and its bylaws ready for the board’s review in May.

The board unanimously approved the recommendations.

Besides the merger of the section and the committee, the recommendations include:

* Making sure that each Bar section and division has an ex-officio member on the new standing committee.

* Increasing communications to sections, divisions, committees, voluntary bars, and Bar members about the Bar’s diversity and inclusion initiative.

* Having support for diversity and inclusion in both Standing Board Policies and the Bar’s Strategic Plan.

*Working with sections to broaden opportunities for minorities to become involved in their activities.

*Tracking diversity and inclusion initiatives within the Bar and related entities, including nominations for judicial nominating commissions, and “measuring participation of minorities in leadership positions and in Florida Bar CLE presentations.”

* Continuing the “Get Involved” campaign to encourage minorities and others to apply for Bar committees and other positions.

* Continuing the diversity grant program, including improving communications and providing models of successful programs. The Bar should also collect data on how programs receiving grants have performed.

[Revised: 07-21-2014]