By Yusuf Z. Zakir

Group of Multiethnic Cheerful Students with the Professor

To foster diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), it is critical to have a framework to clearly guide your efforts. The framework we developed at Davis Wright Tremaine sits on four pillars: Community, Growth, Education, and Engagement.

Community involves fostering a culture of belonging, supporting authenticity and intersectionality, and embracing and appreciating our differences. Within the community pillar, we strive to recognize and reward individual commitment to DEI through billable credit for DEI work. In an effort to foster belonging, we support our affinity groups, employee resource groups, and office DEI committees. Through the development of additional networks, we offer support, guidance, and allyship, including developing a new commitment to first generation professionals.

Growth involves building a diverse pipeline of talent and ensuring equitable access to opportunities, information, and leadership. Within the growth pillar, we understand and uncover equity challenges by studying the data. Working closely with our recruiting and professional-development teams, we develop the pipeline and support paths to success. We launch sponsorship programs to offer access to influential networks, complex work, and business-development opportunities.

Education involves generating opportunities to learn about DEI to elevate our individual and collective consciousness. Within the education pillar, we broaden our mindset by offering firmwide presentations and discussions focused on broader societal topics. We offer interactive presentations to our affinity groups focused on resiliency and perseverance. At key pivot points in the recruiting, development, and advancement process, we deliver DEI training and provide DEI lenses to encourage individuals to take ownership of their DEI commitment.

Engagement involves collaborating with external stakeholders, including our clients, affinity bar organizations, and the broader business and investment community. Within the engagement pillar, we partner with clients around our shared commitment to DEI, including hosting a DEI client summit. We support the important work of external diversity organizations through sponsorship and collaboration. To support women-owned and minority-owned businesses, we enhance and improve our supplier diversity program.

These four pillars offer a comprehensive approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. These four pillars encourage greater involvement from everyone in our organization. This includes helping every person chart a path forward—on an individual level and an organizational level—to learn, grow, and offer allyship, so that we may always lead with a DEI mindset.

Yusuf Z. Zakir

Yusuf Zakir

Yusuf Zakir is the Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Davis Wright Tremaine. Yusuf leads the firm’s efforts to continue building a culture where all attorneys and staff—including those traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession—can have, and can see, a path to long-term success. He collaborates with key stakeholders to develop and implement strategies, programs, and initiatives to build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. Yusuf collaborates with DWT’s practice groups and professional development departments to scale and implement diversity, equity, and inclusion across the organization, including by working with the firm’s diversity structure to propel and accelerate these efforts. He also partners with clients and external organizations in order to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in the broader legal profession and to cultivate an industry that recognizes intersectionality, empowers authenticity, and nurtures belonging.