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  • Inside Track
    October 03, 2018

    Retaining a Diverse Workforce: Learn How a Diverse Team Gets Better Results

    Join the State Bar of Wisconsin Construction and Public Contract Law and Labor and Employment Law sections on Nov. 14 in Pewaukee for a CLE event that explores the barriers women face in the workforce.
    diverse workforce

    Oct. 3, 2018 – Law and construction have long been male-dominated fields. But women and professionals with diverse backgrounds are changing the landscape, by bringing their own unique experiences, backgrounds, and skill sets to the industry.

    These changes, along with challenges exposed by the #MeToo movement, provide opportunity and risk for law and construction firm management. The challenge for many long-standing professionals in these industries is learning how to effectively retain talent so that the clients they serve recognize the benefit of a more diverse team.

    The State Bar of Wisconsin Construction and Public Contract Law and Labor and Employment Law sections are partnering to co-produce the Nov. 14 presentation, panel discussion, and networking event in Pewaukee, Redefining Leadership in Construction: How a Diverse Team gets Better Results.

    The event is designed for lawyers seeking to improve their firms’ retention rate among women and diverse lawyers, as well as construction industry leaders and human resources professionals looking to improve their companies’ retention rate among women and diverse professionals and strengthen their workforce.

    Diversity and inclusion is a core value of the State Bar, including with its sections and divisions. This program is part of an ongoing effort by the Construction and Public Contract Law and Labor and Employment Law sections to take tangible steps to increase diversity in the construction industry and the law firms that serve them.

    “This event will help us to address gender diversity challenges within our own firms, as well as with our clients,” said Kevin Long, chair of the event’s organizing committee and an advisor to the section’s board.

    “Employment lawyers are on the front line for hiring and retention practices,” said Julie Lewis, chair-elect of the Labor and Employment Law Section and a member of the event’s organizing committee. “Our members advise employers and employees on legal aspects of workforce diversity.”

    The issue is important to the legal profession as well as to his clients, Long said.

    Presentation and Discussion on ‘Unskirting the Issue’

    This event features a presentation by Bonnie Fetch who, with Wisconsin lawyer Jessical Poliner, wrote the 2017 book (Un)skirting the Issue: A Guide for the Well-Intentioned Man in Today's Workplace, which provides tips to recognize and address the unconscious bias, stereotypes, and ingrained expectations that affect women in the workforce.

    Fetch has spoken throughout the nation on the topic of women in leadership at the workplace. She is currently an executive director with Cummins, Inc.

    “This conversation – about supporting and increasing workforce diversity and inclusion – applies to all employers, including law firms, government, and other places where lawyers work and practice law,” Lewis said.

    The event explores steps to:

    • create a workplace that avoids behaviors that lead to HR complaints and lawsuits;

    • lead a team that recognizes the value added by women and professionals with diverse backgrounds;

    • create opportunities and open new seats at the table; and

    • navigate the legalities of the hiring process and avoid unconscious bias.

    Other State Bar Sections and Diversity & Inclusion

    Recently, the State Bar Public Interest Law Section altered its bylaws to include a statement of commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts. According to section Chairperson Richard Lavigne, the change reflects an articulation of an ongoing goal. "Enshrining that principle in our bylaws makes the pursuit of diversity a team effort. It relieves individuals of the burden of having to wonder whether their interests align with the group," he said.

    Such a commitment is important to the section's resilience and ability to adapt. "Commitment to diversity acknowledges an openness to the truth that a convergence of differing perspectives is fundamental to innovation," Lavigne said.

    Panel Discussion with Attorneys and Specialists in the Construction Industry

    A panel discussion follows Fetch’s presentation. Panelists include attorneys as well as specialists in construction industry employment – those who work daily with contractors, trade unions, and other construction industry partners. The panelists will discuss observations about 2018 industry employment practices.

    The scheduled panel members include Sammy Schacht, Husch Blackwell (moderator); Kim Hurtado, Founder of Hurtado Zimmerman, S.C.; Mark Kessenich, President and CEO of WRTP/Big Step; Hon. Louis Butler, Jr., DeWitt, Ross and Stevens; and Sara Geenen, The Previant Law Firm.

    About the Event

    Unskirting bookWhat: Redefining Leadership in Construction: How a Diverse Team Gets Better Results

    Who: Presented by the State Bar of Wisconsin Construction and Public Contract Law and the Labor and Employment Law sections.

    Where: Fieldstone Room, Ingleside Hotel, 2810 Golf Road, Pewaukee

    When: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018

    3 - 3:40 p.m. – Featured speaker, Bonnie Fetch, co-author, Unskirting the Issue: A Guide for the Well-Intentioned Man in Today's Workplace
    3:40 - 4:40 p.m. – panel discussion
    4:40 - 5:30 p.m. – networking social

    Cost: $25, includes a client guest. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

    CLE: The event is approved for 1.0 CLE credit.

    To Register and for more information: Visit’s Marketplace

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