The Florida Bar Association has taken a stand against gender and diversity bias in the legal community by determining a 12-step plan of action to resolve and put an end to these issues. Florida Bar President-elect Michelle Suskauer attributes the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements for generating a crucial national conversation about the need for change TODAY, especially in professional settings. The assignment of the Subcommittee on Gender Equality, a division of the Bar’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, is to implement this change in the legal community. As one of the only six female bar presidents, Suskauer fully realizes how widespread and common gender bias is in the workplace.
“Out of the six women who will be president, half of us have had contested elections, and contested elections in The Florida Bar are pretty rare,” Suskauer said. “When I go around the state speaking to different groups, I can’t find women who haven’t had a personal experience with either gender bias or harassment in their careers or personal lives.”
Some of the subcommittee’s recommendations include, identifying gender bias toolkits, developing ways of confidential reporting for gender bias, enforcing and studying an anti-gender bias rule and initiating legal education courses. Although these are great recommendations, it is really important for the legal community to come together and agree that gender-bias behavior is never okay.
“Things like, women in meetings or hearings getting cut off. Or women in a group setting not being given the same weight when the same idea is proposed by a man in the meeting,” said Paul SanGiovanni, member of the Bar’s Diversity and Inclusion committee. “It’s disturbing, but at the same time, it’s encouraging that we’re starting to recognize it and that there are some affirmative things you can do to start to straighten that out.”
What do you think can be done to prevent gender-bias behavior in the professional workplace?
Here at Lauren Richardson Law, PLLC, we do NOT tolerate gender bias and fully support the Florida Bar Association’s decision and their anti-gender bias initiative.