By Roxana Bell
In a February issue of Indiana Lawyer, the Marion County Bar Association (MCBA) and Indianapolis Bar Association paid collaborative tribute to our local African-American trailblazers in honor of Black History Month. In reading this “Celebration of Trailblazers,” I was struck by the relative youth of our central Indiana legal pioneers, many of whom I have had the recent privilege of working alongside as either a judicial clerk, law firm associate or board member of the MCBA. As this “Celebration of Trailblazers” made clear, a good number of our local firsts have been achieved since the turn of the millennium.
While it is wonderful to be able to celebrate so many trailblazing leaders who are still in active practice, it is sobering to realize that only 10 or 15 years ago, our legal community suffered from a significant lack of diversity. Even more sobering is the tally of how many of our celebrated firsts still hold the less celebratory distinction of “only.” And for as many firsts as we were able to celebrate last month, there remain just as many firsts that have not been realized, including within our locally elected or appointed public offices and at small- to medium-sized law firms across the greater Indianapolis area.
I point this out not as an indictment, but as a call to action for employers of all sizes, in both the public and private sectors. If you are an attorney practicing in Indianapolis, ask yourself, “What have I personally done to increase diversity numbers at my workplace?” If your firm or public agency is not currently registered as an interviewing employer for the 2015 IndyBar Diversity Job Fair, ask yourself, “Why not?”
We have come a long way in recent years, but we still have far to go and the IndyBar Diversity Job Fair is one of the surest ways to foster diversity and inclusion at a local level. As a 2010 student-participant and a 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 interviewing employer, I can personally attest to both the Job Fair’s ability to attract impressive candidates and its success in matching these candidates to prospective Indianapolis employers. Any employer that is serious about its diversity efforts cannot afford to miss the fair. After all, it is important to remember that our recently celebrated trailblazers were – in the not-too-distant past – just hopeful, worthy candidates for their respective positions.
Who will you meet at the IndyBar Diversity Job Fair? The next Alan Mills or Roderick Morgan? Perhaps you will be sitting across from the next Pamela Carter or Myra Selby. Regardless of whether you choose to hire anyone through the Job Fair, know that your participation alone will send the unequivocal message that your workplace is one that welcomes diverse applicants. I look forward to seeing many new and returning employers at the IndyBar Diversity Job Fair this summer, and I will hold fast to the hope that, sometime soon, we will see the last of the firsts.
To register today as an interviewing employer for the 2015 IndyBar Diversity Job Fair, please visit ibadiversityjobfair.org or contact Caren Chopp at (317) 269-2000.•
Ms. Bell is an associate at Bingham Greenebaum Doll where she practices in the Labor and Employment Practice Group. Before joining Bingham Greenebaum Doll, Roxana clerked for Judge Jane E. Magnus-Stinson of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, and Judge Rudolph R. Pyle III of the Court of Appeals of Indiana. She is a member of the IndyBar Diversity Job Fair Committee.