James A. Spitz, Jr.
CEO, Harris Beach PLLC
Headquarters: Rochester, New York
Primary Business: Legal services
Collective Mixture Characterized by Differences
Achieving a diverse workplace begins with establishing diversity values. Those values include respect (acknowledging differences and respecting differing points of view), inclusion (valuing everyone’s contribution), teamwork (encouraging diverse perspectives to influence strategies and innovation), and development (maximizing the potential of each individual). Based on these values Harris Beach embraced a broad definition of diversity as defined by Roosevelt Thomas and Associates, Inc.—“any collective mixture characterized by differences, similarities and related tensions in the workplace.” This approach recognizes diversity as more expansive than race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other legal definitions to include regional, cultural, generational, and other differences. Our workforce has embraced this broader approach providing buy in necessary for success.
Another fundamental step in creating a sustained diversity initiative is our diversity council composed of individuals from various departments, job classifications and geographic locations in our firm. With resources and endorsement of our management team the diversity council can, and has, created programs such as diversity training for all employees and newly hired employees, which has helped communication, problem solving and teamwork skills throughout the organization.
Also important in our initiative is that we reach out through other organizations to lead diversity in our profession. Our attorneys are active in various Bar Associations participating in programs and events designed to promote diversity values within the profession and within their respective communities.
We have gone down this path as an organization to strengthen what we do and how we do it. Diverse thinking, teamwork, and the ability to deal with differences allow us to fulfill our mission of providing client solutions that exceed expectations. It is also great to be creating a better place to work.
Education: BA, Middlebury College; MBA, Syracuse University; JD, Syracuse University College of Law
First Job: Harris Beach
What I’m Reading: When Professionals Have to Lead, by Thomas J. Delong, John J. Gabarro, and Robert J. Lees; The Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin
Best Advice: Listen, learn and communicate.
Family: Spouse, Cheryl; two grown sons, Tim and Tyler
Interests: Golf, skiing
Favorite Charity: Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester