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JAMS ADR Insights

Alternative Dispute Resolution Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Hidden Power of Representation in Leadership

Black leadership and its transformative impact

Since joining JAMS at the end of last year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the undeniable power of Black representation in leadership. My predecessor, Mark Smalls, recently shared a profound insight: "What they see is what they'll be." These words serve as both a reminder and a challenge—a call to action to embody the representation we wish to see in our organizations and beyond.

Leaders who prioritize diversity not only foster an inclusive environment, but also unlock benefits for their team members that may not be immediately apparent. Research in social psychology underscores the significant impact of representation on individuals' sense of belonging and psychological safety. When team members see themselves reflected in leadership positions, a unique level of psychological safety and familiarity is established, leading to increased morale, productivity and innovation.

Reflecting on my experiences, I can attest to the transformative power of representation within leadership. At JAMS, diversity isn’t just a buzzword; it’s ingrained in our culture. It’s no coincidence that JAMS boasts one of the most collaborative and kind-hearted work environments I’ve ever encountered. By embracing diversity at all levels, we’ve cultivated a workplace where every voice is not only heard, but valued—a testament to the tangible benefits of inclusive leadership.

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Langston Bar Association Gala, a celebration of Black excellence in the legal profession. Witnessing the installation of the new president, Melvin Felton, and the honoring of esteemed leaders like Judge Rupert Byrdsong reinforced the importance of Black representation in all industries, including law. The legal field, like many others, has an inherently diverse client base, and it's crucial for organizations to reflect the communities they serve.

These experiences serve as powerful reminders of the significance of representation within leadership. As a Black leader, I've never felt prouder than when I see fellow Black associates thriving within our organization. Each interaction with a diverse colleague reaffirms the importance of fostering an inclusive environment where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. It's not just about guiding them in their careers; it's about providing a foundational sense of belonging—a feeling that resonates deeply within me and drives my commitment to fostering an environment where every individual feels valued and empowered.

The power of Black representation within leadership cannot be overstated. By championing diversity and inclusivity, leaders not only drive organizational success, but also empower individuals to bring their best, most authentic selves to work. Let us continue to prioritize representation in leadership, not just for the benefit of our organizations, but for the betterment of the ADR industry and the clients we serve, as well as the legal community as a whole. And let us heed the challenge posed by Mark Smalls: Be what you want them to see.

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