This lawyer created a joint retreat to build community and to show that there’s no retreat from justice or diversity
One of the proudest achievements of my career would be creating and hosting the joint diversity retreat between my law firm Mayer Brown and our client Accenture Legal this past spring. I invested 10 months into planning this first-of-its-kind retreat, together with an Accenture co-host. We took the seed of an idea and grew it into a same-day, five-city, cross-country event, inviting over 200 legal professionals across our two organizations. We programmed a day that included “improv” icebreakers, games to discover commonalities and differences, a keynote session on building resilience, and a fireside chat with leaders who practice inclusive leadership.
I went into the retreat uncertain of the level of engagement the programming would attract. I’d only ever been a participant and never the organizer, at such events. But as the day progressed, I watched the group engage in genuine dialogue, share vulnerabilities, and exchange joy. We formed a community that day.
As I reflect on what inspired me to create this event for my diverse colleagues, I now know it was my pursuit for community. Why? Because I had witnessed my community—my Asian community—threatened during the pandemic.
Living in a world of #StopAsianHate, I felt a heightened obligation to my community to provide leadership in the pursuit of racial justice. As an Asian American woman, as a law firm partner, as the mother of young children, as the children of immigrants, and as an immigrant herself, my voice mattered. I had a platform from which to speak, and I used it. I moderated a panel featuring Asian American in-house counsel—where I met my Accenture retreat co-host— and used that platform to give a voice to their perspectives on our representation in the legal sector. I hosted a discussion with the CEO of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles as part of Mayer Brown’s Race and Justice in America series. I exercised influence to support the activities and goals of my firm’s Asian lawyer’s affinity groups and women’s initiatives.
And then I dreamed big, creating a retreat alongside a firm client, which allowed me to engage in community building on a far greater scale than I could anticipate. The retreat fostered open dialogue and authentic discussions, and combining forces with a firm client who shares similar DEI values only amplified our joint voices. Representation matters, and community matters. Capitalizing on the momentum created by this event, I hope to inspire peers and colleagues to continue our community building.