Meaningful Conversation

Law Practice Today Features Coston’s Insights in

“How Can the Legal Sector Have a More Meaningful Conversation About Race?” 

12/15/20 

Coston Consulting’s CEO Michael Coston shared his insights with Law Practice Today about how to have meaningful conversations about race in the legal profession. The interview was part of a broader listening project with leaders in the space, spearheaded by Infinite Global. Michael noted: 

“One of the reasons why it may be uncomfortable for white people to talk to Black people about race or racism is because there’s oftentimes a lack of prior foundation. Authentic relationships don’t usually start from a place of racial curiosity, personal guilt, or confusion. They start with a common ‘hello’ and basic recognition of someone’s presence. From there, a mutual respect and rapport is established, and a relationship develops. If you have never interacted with or spoken to a Black co-worker previously, I would not recommend using the current climate as your entry point to question them about the Black experience or racism. Don’t start with their race. Start with ‘hello’ and invest in building a relationship so personal discussions are easier to approach. 

“We can all expand our exposure to increase our awareness and understanding of different perspectives and experiences. Read a book, watch a documentary. If you’re unfamiliar with racism and its impact on individuals or the workplace, you can do a little homework and become more informed instead of resting comfortably in what you don’t know or haven’t been exposed to. 

“The law firms that are best positioned to advance their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are those that are not just responding to the current racial justice movement with the knee-jerk reaction of ‘what do we do,’ but those who are taking the more introspective and strategic approach of determining ‘who do we become’ as a firm. That’s the type of mindset and consideration that really drives meaningful cultural and organizational change. 

“This is an ongoing journey, and it may take years for some firms to make substantial progress in certain areas. To provide for sustainability, leadership must be aware of and involved in the firm’s DEI work and committed to the organization’s goals. The more leadership involvement, the more likely it is for success and impact to become a cultural mandate.” 

Read the full article here