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Teaching Leaders to Value Diversity and Advance Inclusion
Leadership in any business, organization or community is critical in effectively promoting an environment that values Diversity and promotes Inclusion. Savvy leaders can position Diversity and Inclusion as tools that enhance workplace and community environments as well as meeting goals and objectives.
Michigan Roundtable is proud in 2012 to work with organizations that are dedicated to educating emerging leaders in Michigan on the social and strategic benefits of promoting Diversity and Inclusion. Recognizing that changing Michigan demographics over the past ten years have led to a business imperative for understanding cultural and social differences, some organizations have begun the process of education and development. Leadership Oakland is one of those organizations. Established in 1990, Leadership Oakland is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that is independent of and not affiliated with other organizations, county governments, or county systems. It provides a nine-month community leadership Cornerstone Program to participants from businesses, organizations and governmental agencies that are selected based on an application process. Michigan Roundtable has partnered with Leadership Oakland, by providing activities and facilitating discussion as part of their Diversity and Inclusion Education session.
Another organization the Michigan Roundtable has worked with in 2012 is Leadership Macomb, which offers leaders and their organizations a better understanding of Macomb County so they can take a proactive role in the future growth of their organization and the community. As part of Leadership Macomb’s 2011-2012 leadership series, the Michigan Roundtable delivered a session on Cultures and Religion that explored diverse cultures and religious practices and beliefs and how they affect the community of Macomb County.
Focusing on Diversity and Inclusion, and assisting participants to be more culturally sensitive, Michigan Roundtable education sessions are interactive and engaging and provide practical tools for daily application.
If you are interested in learning more about our Cultural Competency sessions, please contact Rita Crooks of the Michigan Roundtable’s Cultural Competency group at 313-870-1500, ext. 105, for additional information.
New Report shows that Michigan Public Defenders need Cultural Competency Training
Last year, the Campaign for Justice convened a cultural competence and public defense Michigan workgroup. The workgroup was tasked with investigating how attorneys of color have fared in states that have implemented reforms similar to those proposed in Michigan and how all attorneys are trained to work with diverse client communities. The workgroup was comprised of attorneys, a judge, and reform advocates.
"What does cultural competence have to do with public defense reform? Michigan has become an increasingly diverse state. Furthermore, public defense attorneys in Michigan represent an increasingly diverse group of individuals. Cultural competence is relevant to many questions regarding effective public defense representation, including:
How do clients’ cultural backgrounds affect what they are willing tell their defense attorneys, how they communicate, or what kind of defenses can be raised in court? How are certain practices or actions that are criminal offenses in our state and country handled or perceived in immigrants’ home countries? How do different communities or neighborhoods perceive the criminal justice system and public defense attorneys? How do defense attorneys build a trusting relationship with their clients or witnesses who may have information critical to effective defense representation?"
The Executive Summary of the report highlights some of the workgroup's findings, a few of which are included below:
- The Kent County Office of Defender, Washtenaw Public Defender, and Legal Aid & Defender Association’s State Defender Office (LADA) in Wayne County have a higher percentage of staff attorneys of color compared to the percentage of people of color in the entire State Bar of Michigan membership.
- The defense bar in Michigan has generally not been offered systematic cultural competence training, yet public defense attorneys recognize that the cultural competence framework is useful.
- Most public defense systems studied by the workgroup have a smaller percentage of public defenders or public defense attorneys of color than the percentage of people of color in the state or relevant county population.
- The majority of public defense systems studied that were funded 100 percent by the state did include at least some cultural competence training for defense attorneys.