Kegler Brown Honored for Commitment to Encouraging Diversity

Kegler Brown has been honored as a 2020 Outstanding Diversity Organization by Columbus Business First.

Columbus Business First celebrated the fifth year of its “Diversity in Business” awards program. This program recognizes inclusive organizations and individuals in Central Ohio that have shown outstanding initiative in encouraging diversity in age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race and religion at local workplaces.

“Kegler Brown has long understood the importance of diversity in the workplace and the value of an inclusive culture,” said Kegler Brown’s managing director, Chris Weber. “We are thankful to our Diversity + Inclusion co-chairs, Molly Werhan + Apps Akpofure, for all their recent work on restructuring the firm’s longstanding commitment to actively embracing and encouraging diversity and revamping our internal efforts with a revitalized mission, vision and values. While our work in this area is ongoing, we are greatly honored and humbled to receive this award.”

Throughout the past year, the firm has made it a priority to operate with a focus on its diversity and inclusion efforts, setting new goals and benchmarks, and seeking new opportunities. This firmwide effort brought the importance of diversity to the forefront and drove many of its new internal and external initiatives, which have included:

  • Reorganizing the stakeholders who hold a meaningful voice on the Diversity + Inclusion committee, which includes attorneys and staff to better represent the office’s diversity.
  • Implementing a cultural awareness campaign to recognize and celebrate different cultures throughout the year. One highlight from this internal program is the cultural celebration calendar posted on the firm’s intranet, which the committee ties to informative blog posts that provide background information, spotlight important figures, and detail traditions from firsthand sources. Authored by a variety of firm members, these posts have covered topics that include Equal Pay Day, International Women’s Day, Black History Month, Native American History Month, Rosh Hashanah, and more.
  • Establishing a commitment to purchase a significant portion of its catering and hospitality expenses from local, minority-owned catering companies.
  • Connecting with the broader business community to advance its diversity efforts by hosting cultural events at the firm for employees, clients and friends. One example includes celebrating Black History Month by hosting a candid conversation between the only two Black women to have served as justices on the Supreme Court of Ohio (current Ohio Supreme Court Justice Melody J. Stewart and former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown). The firm was honored to have the justices join them for lunch and to hear them discuss their unique career paths and the advancement of Black women in law.
  • Observing the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by closing the office, and encouraging firm employees to spend the day participating in service activities around Columbus in honor of Dr. King and the values he espoused
  • Delivering on a detailed plan for action in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the death of George Floyd. This plan included direct and matched financial support to Campaign Zero and the Columbus Urban League, increasing billable credit for pro bono activities, re-evaluating the firm’s political contributions, and increasing the opportunities to provide education and dialogue around issues of race and implicit bias.

These new initiatives further advanced the firm’s diversity-focused efforts in the past, including its status as one of the founding members of the CBA’s Managing Partners’ Diversity Initiative, establishment of a Diversity Scholarship for first-year law students, supporting lawyers serving on boards and as members of many local, national and global charitable organizations, and remaining actively involved in a variety of professional development organizations focused on the advancement of diverse communities.

Honorees were selected with the help of outside judges recruited by Columbus Business First, based on applications submitted by nominated people and companies. View the full list of honorees here.

The 2020 class was honored at a virtual awards celebration on Thursday, August 6. Excerpts from the conversation and virtual celebration along with a special feature highlighting the honorees can be found here