Defense Counsel Journal

President's Page - Volume 85, Number 2

Volume 85, No. 2

February 07, 2020

Kopon_Andrew_2017_sized Andrew Kopon Jr.

Andrew Kopon Jr.

Organizations around the globe are paying more attention to diversity and inclusion. Organizations realize that diversity is essential to attain their desired goals. Without inclusion fostered by multiculturalism and diversity, organizations cannot evolve and assure their success. The IADC is no exception.

The experts in the area of creating and sustaining diversity and inclusion in organizations recognize that the path to inclusion is long and at times difficult. The IADC has been on the path of diversity and inclusion for a number of years and has made good strides. Nevertheless, there is more work to do to make sure that the inclusion of everyone is a “given” in the IADC.

The IADC’s membership has grown considerably since its beginning in 1920. We now have more than 2,500 members located in more than 50 countries and territories. Our membership is more diverse and inclusive than when I joined the IADC in 1990. Our leadership continues to become more inclusive and representative of our entire membership, welcoming new leaders regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, age, or geographical location. The IADC, like most organizations, recognizes that having a culture that is diverse and inclusive allows us to have vibrant discussions on important issues that incorporate the perspectives and opinions of a diverse group of people. By incorporating a wide range of values and ideas, we are better able to sustain and grow our membership of the best trial lawyers, global advocates, corporate counsel, and insurance executives. Diversity and inclusion are vital to our continued success.

For example, the three-year Asia Initiative led by Tripp Haston, now in year two, has seen our membership grow dramatically throughout Asia. Continuing to grow as a multicultural Association provides value to all of our members by expanding our network of business and professional relationships. Our Board of Directors is committed to developing expanded continuing education and professional networking opportunities in Asia to incorporate our Asian members into the fabric of the IADC.

Likewise, our annual Regional Meetings in Latin America have increased our membership from several countries in Latin America. In March 2018, our Regional Meeting was held in Lima, Peru and members from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru were in attendance for an excellent half-day program and an enjoyable networking reception and dinner the evening before.

Many of our new members from Latin America and Asia are eager to become involved in the work of the IADC. The leadership of the IADC is focused on making certain that all of our new members who seek to become active in the IADC are given every opportunity to advance within the IADC and to know that they are included in the many activities of our Association.

Because diversity and inclusion are critical to the sustained success of the IADC, I appointed a task force led by IADC Board Member Laura De Santos to examine the policies, practices, and structure of the IADC to see where we can make improvements. The task force has made recommendations to the Board regarding our Mission Statement, Tenets of Professionalism, Core Values, and Strategic Goals that encompass the IADC’s active commitment to advance diversity and inclusion within the IADC.

The work of the Diversity and Inclusion task force resulted in the Board of Directors passing a resolution that the IADC budget for 2018-2019, will include a budget line item, subject to Board approval, for special projects and initiatives that advance the goal of diversity and inclusion in the IADC. The ultimate goal is to weave diversity into the fabric of the IADC.

These are exciting times for the IADC and the Board of Directors is focused on providing the resources necessary to make certain that our multicultural and diverse organization stays committed to inclusion and that we work to provide opportunities for everyone, regardless of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, or national origin.

Most importantly, diversity and inclusion is not the exclusive responsibility of the Board of Directors. It is also the responsibility of all active members of the IADC to work inclusively and to advance our core values of making everyone feel welcomed and valued.

As members of the IADC, all of us have a responsibility to bring in new quality members to keep the IADC positioned as the preeminent corporate and insurance defense advocacy bar association in the world. As we consider nominating lawyers and insurance executives for membership,  we need to increase the membership of underrepresented groups from around the world to maintain our success and continue to attract valuable diverse opinions.

Our members can also advance the goal of inclusion by taking into account diversity when appointing Vice Chair positions for Committees and selecting topics and speakers for CLE programs and Webinars. Our First Timers’ Program and a few Substantive Committees are working to insure that our mentoring programs continue to evolve to make sure that we do our best to welcome new members and assist them in becoming part of the very special fabric of the IADC.

We have the diversity and inclusion momentum and we need to sustain it.