Inclusion is all about shared experience, and it’s really important — especially in our law firms, our law schools, and our judiciary, where shared experience isn’t given the thought or attention that it requires.
Diversity and inclusion have been a focus of the American Bar Association as well as many professional organizations and leading thinkers in the expanding field of expertise that us old-timers refer to as “human resources.” Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of every law firm’s planning for the future, as well as the present. Inclusion is about sustainability — pure and simple.
Mindfulness and meditation can be critical pieces of the inclusion puzzle. There’s the all-too-common notion that the best way to promote inclusion is to organize social activities (e.g., firm outings). But those kinds of social functions don’t serve the same purpose — will never serve the same purpose — as personal activities.
I’m talking about personal activities with which many or most of us don’t have prior experience. Maybe a personal activity about which many or most of us share a common doubt or skepticism … like meditation (which is the means by which we can become more mindful).
How many fingers do you need to count the number of personal activities (discounting silly party games, which aren’t really personal) where a 60-something white male partner can sit next to a 30-something associate who is a woman of color? And comfortably say absolutely nothing? With their eyes closed or disengaged, gazing downward?
Both of them leaving the experience completely comfortable (or mutually uncomfortable) with the feeling that they’ve shared something in common — because they have. Something they can talk about together and/or with others who may have also sat silently with office peers with whom they may have never imagined sitting.
Meditation is inclusion, and there are few other benefits — perhaps, none — that can serve the individual as well as the firm. It’s a 2, or 3, or 4 for 1 kind of a deal. The seemingly exclusive practice of meditation is actually one of the most inclusive things we can do with one another.
For me, meditation is like skiing — while I’m in the middle of an intense run, I am totally focused on me and what I’m doing. But at the end of the run, I need to pull up my goggles, smile at one of my buddies and say, “Damn, that was good!”You get the idea.
Bottom line: Without genuine inclusivity, there can’t be any meaningful diversity. And without diversity and inclusivity, our profession will neither thrive, nor survive. Check it out.
Meditation as a tool for Inclusion. Who’d have thunk it?