SDV is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in our firm. We strive to create an environment that:
- Embraces the collective value of our differences;
- Promotes justice, impartiality, and fairness; and
- Encourages respect and a sense of belonging.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are some of SDV’s core values. We know that these values not only make us a better place to work for our employees, but also contribute to the reputation for excellence we have cultivated through our client work. They are the cornerstone on which the remainder of our core values are built: integrity, problem solving, collaboration, and innovation. We are stronger, more effective, and better able to meet the needs of our clients as a result of the unique perspectives and experiences of a diverse team of employees who feel valued and empowered.
SDV is proud to have been one of the first law firms in Connecticut to sign the Connecticut Bar Association’s (CBA) Diversity & Inclusion Plan and Pledge, and is a proud sponsor of its annual Diversity & Inclusion Summit. We are also a signatory to the endorsement of the expansion of Rule 8.4 of the Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct, which defines the engagement of discrimination in the practice of law as misconduct.
In 2021, SDV enrolled in the new Mansfield Rule Certification for midsize law firms, operated by Diversity Lab. To achieve the Mansfield Certification, a law firm must consider at least 30% women, lawyers from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, lawyers with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ lawyers for top leadership roles, senior-level lateral hiring, equity partnership eligibility, and participation in client meetings. The overall goal of the Mansfield Rule is to increase the diversity of lawyers in leadership roles. SDV is committed to putting diversity, equity, and inclusion into action, and we look forward to embracing this initiative to advance these efforts.
SDV believes strongly in the value of pipeline initiatives. Each summer, the firm hosts diverse high school and college students through internship programs sponsored by Connect-Us Academy and Lawyer’s Collaborative for Diversity. We actively recruit for our robust Summer Associate Program through the National Black Law Students Association’s job fair, among others. The firm also sponsors an annual scholarship through the CBA’s Future of the Legal Profession Scholars Program, which provides scholarships for LSAT preparation courses to students of diverse identities.
SDV attorneys sit on the boards of organizations such as the Lawyer’s Collaborative for Diversity and the George W. Crawford Black Bar Association, and many more are actively involved in affinity bar associations and participate in their volunteer efforts. Time spent on these and other diversity and inclusion endeavors count towards the attorney’s overall billable hours.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee.
The firm’s DE&I Committee is chaired by Partner Grace Hebbel based in our Northeast Office. Nearly 1/3 of SDV’s employees participate in the committee, and we are extremely proud of the wide interest in participating. To better focus its efforts, the committee is broken into four sub-committees:
- Community Engagement – responsible for recruiting and pipeline initiatives, volunteer opportunities, and marketing endeavors.
- Education – focuses on employee educational resources and collaborates with the Events sub-committee on content for in-house training sessions and Town Halls.
- Events – hosts events that promote team building, inclusiveness, and camaraderie, as well as coordination of training sessions and Town Halls with other sub-committees.
- Pro Bono – identifies opportunities to leverage our experience and resources to assist underrepresented persons in addressing their legal concerns.
SDV is committed to the recruitment, development, and advancement of underrepresented groups within the firm and is working diligently towards reaching its ideal goals and benchmarks.
- 3 of the last 5 attorneys elevated to Partner have been female.
- 75% of Associates and Of Counsel Attorneys are female, ensuring a continued pipeline to the partnership ranks.
- More than 5% of SDV employees identify as LGBTQ+, a percentage consistent with the general population.
SDV is extraordinarily proud to have been recognized by the Connecticut Law Tribune with its 2021 Diversity Initiative Award for our efforts with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion.