Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion mission of ALFA International (ALFAI) is grounded in the recognition and appreciation of the unique potential within every individual.

The two core principles that drive ALFAI’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion efforts are:

  1. All people are deserving of equal opportunities and treatment.
  2. Discrimination in any form is not accepted or tolerated.

To that end, ALFAI has taken direct steps to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of the network. These affirmative steps include:

  • ALFAI has a robust and active Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee that is empowered by direct reporting to the Board of Directors.
  • At every leadership level, ALFAI fosters participation by members of all backgrounds, races, genders, sexual orientations, and those with disabilities.
  • ALFAI provides scholarships to underrepresented attorneys to attend its Practice Group (PG) Seminars, which directly impacts the demographics of its PG meetings. Furthermore, ALFAI works closely with those attorneys to ensure they are fully immersed within the PG and actively participate in future ALFAI activities.
  • ALFAI created DEI Committee Liaisons for each PG to ensure DEI initiatives are continuously discussed and implemented throughout the network.
  • ALFAI provides meaningful diversity and inclusion programming to its clients and members through PG seminars and webinars. Please review such webinars HERE.
  • ALFAI developed and offers a DEI Tool Kit of valuable resources for all members and staff to address DEI issues effectively and respectfully.
  • ALFAI completed a comprehensive review of all event venues to ensure the locations and facilities selected are welcoming to all clients and members.
  • ALFAI is implementing an audit of its vendors to ensure that the people and organizations with whom ALFAI does business reflect the diversity of the world in which we live.
  • ALFAI encourages all members to support efforts to promote equity and justice in their local communities, including seeking local partnerships that provide opportunities for underrepresented students and attorneys.
  • ALFAI prepared and adopted a DEI Policy and Law Firm Best Practices for DEI for its member firms.
  • Questions related to a firm’s commitment to DEI initiatives are now included in the application form potential new ALFAI member firms must complete to be considered for network membership.
  • A DEI Forum was created for ALFAI member firms to share best practices as they continue developing these initiatives in their firms.
  • ALFAI partnered with the Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program (DAPP) for four years to place female law students of color in paid summer clerkship opportunities with its member firms and is actively seeking similar “pipeline” and relationship-building opportunities.

While ALFAI will continue in these efforts, there is much more to do to ensure the network reflects, in all respects, the world in which we live. The challenges are complex and require thoughtful, respectful, and deliberate action. ALFAI moves forward with a clear vision and stands unequivocally to promote fairness and equality for persons of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and those with disabilities. ALFAI’s mission will not end until all people are afforded equal opportunities, and all discrimination is eliminated.

ALFA International Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee
Antwan Phillips, Chair

2024 DE&I Calendar

The purpose of ALFA International’s DE&I Calendar, linked above, is to promote a more inclusive environment where everyone feels welcomed and understood. The evolving DE&I calendar is a compilation of significant dates, including celebrations and observances from cultures and religions worldwide, health and well-being awareness days, and weeks and months dedicated to underrepresented individuals and marginalized groups. Your input is encouraged to ensure the DE&I calendar remains a relevant and practical resource in promoting, embracing and celebrating diversity, equity and inclusion. To contribute additional days of significance not currently displayed on the calendar, please submit your suggestions to Brandie Smith.

DE&I and Ethics Webinars 

View Webinar Recording

There is an ever-expanding understanding of the importance and value of intentional diversity and inclusion efforts and an important piece of inclusion efforts should be the recognition of important holidays and events to the increasingly diverse and multicultural nature of our respective organizations. BUT there are over 200 holidays and events that celebrate diversity and inclusion. With the breadth of worthy celebrations, how does your organization select the right ones to recognize? And once you select which holidays to recognize, how should they be celebrated? While there is no perfect method to make these decisions, the panelists discuss suggestions, ideas and tips on what steps your organization can take to be intentional in the decision-making process. CLE credit can be acquired in most states for this webinar. Please note that this webinar has been approved for 1 hour of Professional Responsibility credit in Illinois.

View Webinar Recording

This webinar is an encore presentation of a session from ALFA International’s International Client Seminar (ICS) this past March. Workplace discrimination has been prohibited in the United States since 1964, yet a recent study supported by the ABA Foundation confirms that our current legal processes may actually exacerbate employment discrimination. During this session, the panel suggests the system fails because of the toxic consequences of shaming, as described by Brené Brown and others. The panel addresses how both the system and the roles we play in it can and should be transformed.

View Webinar Recording

This webinar is an encore presentation of a session from ALFA International’s International Client Seminar (ICS) this past March. During this session, the panel discusses how 2020 was a year of change in ways most of us could not even imagine in 2019. From a pandemic that shut down the world and impacted women and minorities more sharply than white men, to protests over police violence and racial inequality in our criminal justice system, to a Supreme Court decision over LGBTQ rights in the workplace, to a new woman Supreme Court justice appointed weeks before the presidential election, there was unprecedented change in the world as we know it. As those who work in law and our system of justice, it is our dual privilege and responsibility to leverage our positions to cause positive change in 2021 and beyond in response to the events of 2020. This panel focused on how we can start discussions and bring the positive changes home to our own workplaces to increase both diversity and inclusion in our everyday world. 

View Webinar Recording

This webinar is an encore presentation of a session from ALFA International’s International Client Seminar (ICS) this past March. During this session, the panel discusses how blind spots and Amygdala Hijacks are two of the deadliest barriers to strong interpersonal relationships and healthy organizations. Successfully uncovering blind spots and avoiding Amygdala Hijacks depends on individual self-awareness and a willingness to address both issues. If you find yourself unaware of blind spots and experiencing untimely and frequent emotional outbursts, the tips and stories offered in this webinar will help you toward a trajectory of greater Emotional Intelligence and improved relationships, both at the office and at home. 

View Webinar Recording

The webinar panelists share ways to ensure you are aware of unconscious biases, which aid in more sound decision making whether that be in your place of employment or in the courtroom.

View webinar recording

COVID-19 created unprecedented situations in every job and industry, including the legal field. Change, evolution and adaptation became commonplace as everyone learned how to continue operating at both work and home. Law firms sent their workforces home to keep them safe, but also had to keep the lights on, continue to zealously advocate for and represent their clients and abide by their ethical duties. One area where ethical questions arose involved the virtual practice of an attorney. As remote work is here to stay, this webinar addressed Formal Opinion 498 from the American Bar Association (ABA), which provides guidance on various ethical duties surrounding virtual practice. This webinar  explored the rules articulated in the guidance, discussed German/European counterparts and perspectives and provided practical ways to abide by ethical rules while working remotely.

Laurel McGiffert Memorial DE&I Scholarship

The Laurel McGiffert Memorial DE&I Scholarship, previously known as the Practice Group Seminar Scholarship/Incentive Program, was established in 2018 by former ALFAI Chair Gary Bague. The Scholarship name changed in 2024 as a tribute to Laurel McGiffert, who was the first African American woman to not only become a partner with Plunkett Cooney, ALFAI’s member firm in Detroit, Michigan, but also serve as the first African American woman on the firm’s Board of Directors and the firm’s first director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) before her passing in January 2024.

Laurel was a trailblazer and a true champion of DE&I, and her contributions to ALFAI, particularly as a member of the DE&I Committee, have been invaluable. She played a crucial role in shaping the agendas and providing thought leadership for ALFAI’s DE&I Forum, which comprises representatives from ALFAI member firms actively involved in advancing DE&I efforts within their own firms.

The Scholarship is open to persons of all races, genders, sexual orientations and those with disabilities, whom their firm nominates to attend one of ALFAI’s Practice Group (PG) Seminars. The Scholarship aims to introduce the chosen candidates to the ALFAI network as a first step in building a fully engaged relationship between the candidate and the PG awarding the Scholarship.

Each firm that nominates a candidate commits to supporting that candidate’s future ALFAI endeavors, ensuring that the applicant becomes an active member of the PG and is involved in meaningful roles within the PG moving forward. 

Since its inception, 41 diverse attorneys have received this Scholarship. Of those recipients, four are currently recognized as ALFAI Contact Partners and four serve in ALFAI leadership roles.

Vendor and Venue Guidelines

ALFAI expects its vendors to comply with all applicable laws regarding discrimination in hiring and employment practices. Workers should always be treated with respect and dignity. We expect vendors to maintain a workplace free of discrimination, harassment, victimization, and any other form of inappropriate behavior or abuse on any grounds, including but not limited to age, disability, ethnic or social origin, gender, gender identity, nationality, race, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, pregnancy, political convictions, religious beliefs, union affiliation or veteran status.

If ALFAI learns that a current or potential vendor has or is in violation of any of these guidelines, ALFAI reserves the right to terminate the relationship, subject to any contractual terms that may be applicable.

In securing a location for an ALFAI seminar or off-site event, various items will be considered, depending on the country/state.

ALFAI will strive to conduct its seminars and events at venues that do not have a history of discrimination and are not offensive to diverse attendees. For example, venues such as former plantations will not be considered for an ALFAI event. ALFAI will research current and past owners of potential venues to determine if the venue has a questionable history or practices. To the extent a venue’s history raises questions, ALFAI will make its concerns known to the venue and evaluate if the property has taken appropriate measures to address its history in an honest manner that promotes healing and reconciliation. 

ALFAI will endeavor to look for venues owned and/or operated by a diverse individual or company. ALFAI will ensure that the location of its seminar events and activities will be accessible to all attendees and be ADA-compliant so that all attendees can enter and participate with dignity. Items such as gender-neutral bathrooms will also be considered.

ALFAI aims to ensure its attendees, especially its diverse participants, are comfortable with the location and the general locale surrounding an ALFAI seminar or event venue.

“In addition to the Hospitality & Retail Seminar's programming being outstanding as usual, I was very moved that the team made the investment in bringing Minda Harts to speak at the conference. It was just another example of ALFAI's authentic commitment to DE&I and creating welcoming spaces, and it meant a lot. ALFAI is very special in that it doesn't just talk the talk about client service - it walks the walk.”