New Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Tamika Walters Featured in Law360
Law360 highlighted the arrival of Burr & Forman’s new Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Tamika Walters, on January 15, 2021, along with information on her new role and plans for the firm. In her new role, Walters will focus on recruiting, retention, offering professional development and inclusion training and dedicating programs to respect diverse cultures’ history and customs.
Walters told Law360 she has seen the practice of law become more collaborative and the business of law become more innovative and relationship-driven during her more than 15 years in the legal industry. “And now out of necessity, the culture of law is becoming more inclusive,” she said, adding that research shows diversity and inclusion leads to more innovation and better solutions for clients. “My overarching goal at the outset is to help shape the culture, you know to really raise awareness of difference and to create an inclusive environment where people of all backgrounds can bring their whole selves to work.”
Walters pointed to affinity groups, in which employees can bond over a shared background or identity with allies, as one strategy to help connect people in different offices. Additionally, she plans to provide unconscious bias and inclusion training.
In the short term and in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Walters has encouraged firm employees in groups of two to four people throughout the week of January 18 to share who they are and what they value most. This concept, which Walters calls a Conscious Connection, is based on Dr. King’s insight that people don’t get along because they fear each other and that they fear each other because they don’t know each other and haven’t communicated with each other. “I anticipate we’ll do these periodically throughout the year where people have an excuse to connect with someone they may not know very well and just have a real conversation and show who they are beyond the surface,” Walters said of the activity. “So much of our interaction with each other depends on what you see with your eyes; that first impression; so we want to consciously create these opportunities for people to express who they are beyond the surface.”
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