The Task Force is chaired by Global Managing Partner Sandy Thomas and includes the seven-member Senior Management Team (SMT); select members of the Executive Committee, the firm’s governing body; and other lawyers and professional staff. The Task Force will carry out the firm’s newly created Racial Equity Action Plan, or REAP, a framework proposal recently enacted with the full endorsement of the SMT and the Executive Committee and supported by lawyers and staff throughout the firm. Every functional component of the firm is represented on this committee, with the aim of holistically re-imagining organizational business practices and habits to promote racial equity.
Reed Smith developed REAP focusing on three broad objectives:
- Wellbeing and learning: The primary goal of this element of the Plan is to improve fairness and wellbeing for Black people working at the firm, and to solicit ideas on how to uphold racial equity as a fundamental value of the firm and foster discussion about racism’s toll. Additionally, the firm will set and achieve improvement measures in hiring, retention and promotion of Black lawyers and staff.
- Pro bono and community engagement: As a global law firm, Reed Smith is uniquely positioned to use its legal skills and resources toward doing good and making positive improvements in the communities where it does business and beyond. With the support of business allies, nonprofits and advocacy organizations committed to equity and equality, the firm will pursue community engagement and legal advocacy with the specific goal of advancing a more equitable society, including criminal justice reform, voting rights and other important efforts.
- Client engagement and collaboration: Reed Smith will engage with clients on pro bono collaborations, business partnerships and other endeavors to support this important part of our collective businesses.
To meet the REAP objectives, Reed Smith has taken initial steps that lay the foundation for future actions. These include:
- Empowering Reed Smith’s pro bono team to provide increased focus, time and effort toward programs and partnerships that prioritize racial justice. The firm will leverage its legal experience to pursue new avenues of reform, in tandem with nonprofits and advocacy groups. For example, the firm is supporting the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund’s monitoring of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s eviction moratoriums and potential racial discrimination.
- Teaming up with over 250 other law firms to form the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, whose goal is to amplify the voices of communities and individuals oppressed by racism; to help communities of color use the law more effectively as a vehicle for beneficial change; and to promote racial equity in the law.
- Expanding the firm’s Wellness Works Program’s support of Reed Smith personnel to specifically address the stress, trauma and mental health challenges that result from racism, discrimination, implicit bias and stereotypes. This new offering, called Diversity Matters: Mental Health Initiative, will facilitate discussion through group sessions, speakers and other programming in an effort to bring to light individual and collective experiences and help address the impact of racial bias. The firm will seek to advance this and other elements of Wellness Works through partnerships with outside organizations, such as our new collaboration with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the US’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.