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Higer leads committee to combat gender and diversity bias

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Higer leads committee to combat gender and diversity bias

A special committee looking at gender bias and diversity issues in the legal profession will make recommendations to the Board of Governors at its December meeting, according to President-elect Michael Higer.

Michael Higer

Higer told the Board of Governors at its July Miami Beach meeting that President Bill Schifino tapped him to lead the special committee studying gender and diversity issues, with the goal of making concrete recommendations.

A

recent survey

by the

Young Lawyers Division

raised gender bias and diversity issues that many people might have assumed were no longer significant in 2016, he said.

“It’s clearly an issue, whether you’re talking about gender equality issues or diversity issues,” Higer said, adding Schifino has received inquiries from Bar members around the state asking how the Bar would respond.

The result is the new committee, which includes both board members and nonboard members, and a charge to perform a thorough and quick review and suggest ways for the Bar to act.

The committee has already met and will meet again in October.

“We’re going to bring in educators and academicians from outside the state who have been very involved and dedicated to the issues, and a number of other folks who have been involved in this state, and perhaps some of our past presidents who have engaged on these issues for many years,” Higer said. “We will focus on coming back to this board with action items.

“For most of us and probably for most of our Bar, I don’t think it’s an intentional act on our part not to promote gender equality or diversity. I think a lot of things that are happening in our law firms and elsewhere are unintentional bias,” he added. “If you want to design for change, you have to start from an organization like ours and create that opportunity for change.”

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