Harvey Milk’s Ideas about the Power of Coming Out Still Hold True Today

By Edward Cramp

Every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends if indeed they are your friends. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and all. And once you do, you will feel so much better.
Harvey Milk, 1978, available here.

Harvey Milk spoke these words in 1978, in a speech celebrating the defeat of Proposition 6 in California. Prop. 6 would have prohibited LGBT people from teaching in public schools. Ultimately, a wide coalition of leaders— from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan— joined Harvey Milk in condemning the measure. It went down to overwhelming defeat. Today, it is a credit to Harvey Milk and countless others that it is unthinkable that such a proposal could make it to the ballot. Continue reading “Harvey Milk’s Ideas about the Power of Coming Out Still Hold True Today”

The Long and Winding Road to Workplace Equity in New Jersey

By Kathy O’Malley

While New Jersey may be one of the smaller states in the nation, it does not shy away from being on the forefront when it comes to protecting the rights of its workers and citizens. Over the last decade, New Jersey has taken many steps to advance the rights of those who are diverse. This look in the rearview mirror highlights some of the Garden State’s efforts: Continue reading “The Long and Winding Road to Workplace Equity in New Jersey”

What Being a Hispanic/Latino Means to Me and How It has Influenced My Working and Personal Life

This blog post features a compilation of narratives from Duane Morris staff members in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Continue reading “What Being a Hispanic/Latino Means to Me and How It has Influenced My Working and Personal Life”

Kamala Harris is Inspiring Women of Color Across our Country

Manita RawatBy Manita Rawat

It’s not that Geraldine Ferarro didn’t inspire me. When I saw her on my TV at the age of six and heard her vice presidential acceptance speech, I thought “women can be whatever they want to be.” But, I also wondered if that notion applied to people like me—women and girls of color. Growing up, whether on TV or the big screen, there just weren’t women of color for me to even see. Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels, Jem and the Holograms, and Baby from Dirty Dancing all had something I didn’t—a lighter shade of skin. This lack of visibility for people like me did not deter me from any goals, but did cause me to wonder if this dearth of representation would someday be a roadblock simply because the world had never seen a woman of color in a particular role. After watching Kamala Harris accept the vice presidential nomination, I no longer wonder. Continue reading “Kamala Harris is Inspiring Women of Color Across our Country”

Enabling Innovation and Profitability While Creating an Inclusive World with Diverse Design

Around the world, companies are leaving money on the table.  Lack of diversity and inclusion in “The Room Where It Happens,” whether the “IT” is a board-room, an innovation team, or a design team, repeatedly has been shown to affect the bottom line.  In the realm of innovation alone, experts have estimated that “the size of the economy could be roughly 3 to 4 percent higher if women and underrepresented minorities were included in the innovative process from beginning to end.”

To read the full text of this post by Heidi Lunasin and Yalda Hajavi, the first of a multipart series, please visit the Duane Morris Fashion, Retail and Consumer Branded Products Blog.

The Power To Do Something

Anastasia KaupBy Anastasia N. Kaup

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with a male “C-suite” officer at a prominent investment fund, with whom I’ve worked for years. Among other topics, our conversation touched on diversity and inclusion, and on that topic, the officer said: “we’ll never improve diversity and inclusion numbers in business or law unless those who are in positions with the power to do something, actually do something, to support others who are diverse or women.” That comment really struck a chord with and inspired me, and I couldn’t agree more. Continue reading “The Power To Do Something”

We Must Not Overlook Recent Historic Diversity Milestones

Neville BilimoriaBy Neville Bilimoria

During the pandemic, it is so hard for us to stay connected and focused, much less remember what day of the week it is. Some, like myself, seem like we are glued to our screens, working away, and have little time to look up and focus on what is happening outside of our isolated home offices. That’s why I feel we have to step back, take a breath, and really internalize and absorb some of the historic diversity milestones that have occurred just recently over the last month, and not let the coronavirus and our collective isolation divert our attention away from these history-making milestones: Continue reading “We Must Not Overlook Recent Historic Diversity Milestones”

Representation Matters and It’s Good Business

Mark LernerBy Mark Lerner 

When I started my legal career at a small firm over 25 years ago, I had trepidations over whether I could be myself and practice law.  Would partners want to work with me?  Would clients?  I had come out of the closet before going to law school and was even a member of the law school’s LGBT law student group. I didn’t want to be back in the closet at work, but I was also afraid to be fully out. Continue reading “Representation Matters and It’s Good Business”

An LGBTQ Associate’s Guide To My New Large Firm

Alain VilleneuveBy Alain Villeneuve

Chapter 2: The Annual Review

As a young associate making my way to partnership, each year in the early fall, I felt myself slowly become more agitated and a feeling of unease arose within me. Routine criticisms about my response times, my legal work, or even clerical mistakes somehow punched deeper under the armor. I figured it was due to the arrival of fall or the workload of the yearly billable hour clock about to hit noon.


Being promoted to partner did not resolve the problem; in fact, it was just exacerbated. After years of therapy, I was finally able to pinpoint the source of my unrest and put a name to this inner demon: The Annual Review.


Numbers do not lie. Some experts have found the LGBTQ community is at most 7% of the population. Since high school, I slowly managed to increase the proportion of LGBT people around me. On social media I joined LGBTQ groups, and my network of friends is almost exclusively from my community. But, at work there is no hiding the fact most everyone around me is not LGBTQ. In fact, at a minimum, 93% of my work colleagues are straight. That number in large law firms can reach a whopping 98-99%.


At the time of the annual review, even in the most diversified of firms, almost everyone entering reviews for me is different from me in this fundamental way. Straight associates are reviewed almost entirely by straight lawyers, but LGBTQ associates are also reviewed almost exclusively by straight lawyers. These reviewers are then asked to converge into a computer system and give their opinions. It is natural to fear this process.


But, each year, to my surprise a strange thing happens. I resent and worry about the process, feel vulnerable, brace myself for the worst outcome, and with amazed relief, each time the review comes back positive. The annual review feels to me like a six-month wait for a cancer screening. My mind braces for discrimination and strangely, like a tornado warning, it leaves in silence without destruction. Each year I tell myself next fall will be different and each year the problem is back.


I know as a diverse associate, this annual feeling of powerlessness adds to the heavy workload and stress facing you. Why do I fear these reviews so damn much? My experience shows me that it makes no sense. And yet, my mind inevitably goes directly to imagining the worst possible outcome.


Unlike work criticism, discrimination hurts on a much deeper level. It does so for a simple reason: discrimination attacks who you are and not what you do. It chips away the fabric of your inner self. The same way you cannot force another to fall in love with you, it is impossible to fix any problem at work based on bias, discrimination or personal animus. If your work was shoddy or rushed, you know the problem and can fix it. Discrimination or bias is a different beast.


Diverse attorneys must triage any criticism. They ask themselves, “Is this poor, fixable performance or bias?” I won’t lie, the months before my annual review, I tend to slide more things into the “bias” column than the “poor performance” category. Then I put names to my fear. Let’s not kid ourselves, I won’t pretend to fix this problem, the world is what it is and honestly these odds are what they are. But, at a minimum, what we can do is see this problem as it approaches. At my first firm, the review came in November, and at the second it took place in February. Each time, I would start being rather insecure 2-3 months before the review. This feeling actually got better weeks before the results. What you need to do is to perceive and quantify the unease you’re experiencing so you can better name it and manage it. I had a calendar and I would put a red marker on the day of the review.


So next time you get nervous, anxious, and feel like you are frustrated by negative feedback, ask yourself what time of year it is. If you are close to your review, I have a little tip. I love the real Starbucks coffee from across the street—its half-decaf triple lattes, the non-fat kind. The drink is nothing short of $6, which I reserve for my special occasions. So, in the two months leading up to my review, each time that I get something that sends me to a bad place I simply grab my coat and walk to Starbucks without my cell phone. Don’t bring the emails along. Give this 30 minutes, that’s all.

*This blog post series has been created to celebrate Pride. 

Federal Law Protects LGBT workers from Discrimination

Eve KleinBy Eve Klein

Today SCOTUS ruled in a 6-3 decision addressing three pending similar cases that discrimination against an employee because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is indeed discrimination because of their sex prohibited by Title VII. The Court explained that at the very heart of a decision to deny employment to a person because they are gay is the employer’s reliance on the fact that they are attracted to the same gender as their assigned gender at birth. If a man is attracted to a man that is problematic but if that man was a woman attracted to a man then the employer would have no issue and no adverse employment action would result. As such, it is the individual’s assigned gender that is determinative or the “but for” cause of their discharge. The same analysis applies to gender identify. If an employer finds a female employee’s display of masculine traits objectionable but not a male employee’s display of those same traits objectionable, the basis of the objection comes down to the employee’s assigned gender.


The majority rejected key dissent arguments such as that the 1964 legislature did not intend Title VII to include sexual orientation and gender identity given the state of the times, the lack of explicit reference to these characteristics and repeated efforts over the years to amend Title VII to include them. However, the Court explained that none of these points are relevant on the ground that Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination against any individual because of their sex is broad, clear and unambiguous, requiring no legislative history, express inclusion or analysis of subsequent legislative actions.


The upshot of this decision will be felt more acutely in those states and localities that do not ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and sexual identity. Currently, slightly less than half of all states and approximately 400 jurisdictions prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.


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