Zausmer Shareholders Present to ACC on Diversity Initiatives

Zausmer Shareholders Mischa Boardman and Cinnamon Plonka recently teamed up with Joe Laymon, Co-Owner of the Piston Group, and Christina Sans, Vice President and Senior Legal Counsel at TCF Bank, to deliver a virtual seminar on diversity to the Michigan chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is a global bar association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel through information, education, networking opportunities, and advocacy initiatives. Their presentation, entitled “Building a Better Workplace: Strategies for Creating and Implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives,” discussed diversity and inclusion, program development, implementation, and types of initiatives, as well as how to create value while managing liability.

Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.

What is DEI?

  • Diversity: Includes a wide variety of identities such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, disability, age, nationality, and socioeconomic status.
  • Equity: The guaranty of fair treatment access, opportunity, and advancement for all.
  • Inclusion: Brings traditionally excluded individuals into processes, activities, and decision/policy making to share power and ensure equal access to opportunities and resources.

DEI in the workplace is good for the health of the business:

  • Drives better business performance
  • Grows innovation and resiliency
  • Increases job satisfaction amongst employees
  • Lifts morale and overall attitude

Although underrepresented groups make up 40% of the U.S. population, only 12.5% assist in board direction at the largest publicly traded companies. Developing DEI programs within a company allows the organization to view diversity as helping rather than hindering the workplace, and creates a culture where everyone feels valued and believes that processes and outcomes are fair.

Types of DEI Initiatives:

  • Focus on people to create a culture of “belonging” and retain diverse employees
  • Recruit diverse talent
  • Design physical space to fill diverse needs
  • Support and engage with the community advocating for DEI outside of the organization

Any DEI program must be designed to each company’s unique requirements. Some well-intentioned actions can backfire and potentially expose a company to liability. It is imperative that any initiative is compliant with all applicable state and federal laws and compliance requirements. When developing DEI programs, it is vital to have a partnership between the business people and the legal department, as is engaging outside counsel or experts.

To learn more about Mischa Boardman:
To learn more about Cinnamon Plonka:


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