Koley Jessen’s Roadmap to a More Diverse and Inclusive Workplace
Koley Jessen is committed to providing innovative, proactive, and expert advice and advocacy for our clients. We believe that embracing diversity in all aspects of the firm’s affairs is essential to our ability to achieve this goal and is consistent with our core values of over-the-top service, investment in others, continuous improvement, and a commitment to giving back and lifting up our community.
“Diversity” is a term that refers to the differences in culture, background, and experiences that all people bring to their workplace, including, for example, age, race, ethnicity, gender, education, culture, religion, disabilities, family status, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, and job responsibilities.
A work environment that welcomes and appreciates differences enhances Koley Jessen’s ability to attract, develop, and retain a more talented and motivated workforce, to provide our clients with a wide range of creative and effective approaches to achieve their goals, and to remain competitive in a fast-paced and changing legal marketplace.
Koley Jessen is committed to:
- creating an institution which reflects and respects the diversity of our clients and the larger community we serve;
- fostering a work environment that recognizes, understands, and celebrates differences;
- promoting a work environment beyond any bias or prejudice, where every individual’s development is respected and inspired to contribute their best, strengthened by one another’s different perspectives, backgrounds, and life experiences; and
- making diversity an integral part of our firm culture.
Our Course of Action
Recruitment and Outreach
We take a direct, coordinated, and consistent approach to increasing the representation of underrepresented groups on all levels of the firm, with a particular focus on increasing the number of individuals from groups who have been historically underrepresented as lawyers.
Nebraska Legal Diversity & Inclusion Project – We are an active contributor and founding board member of the Nebraska Legal Diversity & Inclusion Project, a group that is leading the creation of a new non-profit focused on improving diversity and inclusion within Nebraska’s legal community.
Avenue Scholars / Intern Omaha – We are participating in Avenue Scholars/Intern Omaha’s internship program. This program is designed to promote, build awareness, and educate high school seniors on career opportunities in the Omaha metro area.
University of Nebraska at Lincoln Opportunity Scholarship – We partner with the Law School at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to provide a generous opportunity scholarship to a deserving candidate.
Education and Dialogue
We educate ourselves, raise our awareness of and sensitivity to diversity issues, and examine our stereotypes and assumptions. We foster honest, open, and respectful communication, and develop a greater proficiency for addressing diversity issues on the personal, interpersonal, and organizational level.
Employer Coalition for CODE (“Commitment to Opportunity, Diversity, & Equity”) – As a member of this coalition, formed by the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, we have signed a pledge acknowledging that we are committed to the following: 1) Creating and implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy; 2) Having diversity and inclusion leadership in place to support these efforts; and 3) Participating in an assessment that evaluates diversity and inclusion to identify areas of opportunity and the ability to measure success.
Mansfield Rule for Midsized Law Firms – We are an active participant in Diversity Lab’s Midsize Mansfield Rule certification program for law firms with less than 100 lawyers that want to increase and sustain a diverse and inclusive workforce. The certification measures, among other things, whether law firms have affirmatively considered women and attorneys of color as at least 30% of the candidate pool for lateral mid-level/senior associate and partner hires. Koley Jessen attained Certification Plus status in May 2022.
Retention, Training, and Development
We establish programs and mechanisms that promote the development of the skills we need to better serve our clients, and foster interpersonal and professional connections that will enhance our ability to work together on behalf of our clients. In particular, these programs help provide resources and assistance to individuals and groups who have been historically underrepresented as attorneys, as we lead with an even more accountable effort to ensure their progression within the firm.
Koley Jessen Women’s Forum - The mission of this group is to provide our female lawyers with valuable education, mentoring, and networking opportunities to support and promote career advancement, leadership development, and overall strategies to succeed.
LeadDIVERSITY - Through a competitive selection process, a member of our team is participating in this program that brings together a cohort of talented people with the goal of developing and networking leaders dedicated to creating localized solutions to diversity and inclusion opportunities in Nebraska.
Ascent Program - The Ascent Program is a component of our Pro Bono policy dedicated to supporting businesses that are majority-owned by underrepresented persons. The goal of the Ascent Program is to provide $250,000 of pro bono legal services over five years. For additional information please see our handout.