Employers reap the benefits when they cultivate diverse and inclusive workplace cultures. Diverse workforces can help employers not only strengthen their ability to connect with clients/customers and attract and keep talent, but also drive innovation and productivity and limit the potential for legal liability.
Employers, well aware of these benefits, have responded by implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and stepping up efforts to recruit and retain employees from all backgrounds. However, these initiatives and efforts must be carried out carefully, so as to stay within the confines of constantly changing employment laws.
Employers turn to Epstein Becker Green, with its 50 years of employment law experience, for help in creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, mitigating the risk of litigation, and protecting their brand and reputation. Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Counseling group, which is made up of talented, diverse attorneys, provides counseling, training, and litigation services tailored to meet each client’s specific needs and goals.
Epstein Becker Green helps employers in all industries develop and maintain effective DEI programs. We work with clients’ boards of directors and senior executives to institute best practices for a diverse workforce while keeping clients compliant with all applicable laws and regulations—federal, state, and local. Our attorneys take a practical approach, bringing to bear their own experience in both the private and public sectors and their extensive knowledge of employment law.
Analysis and Advice
Employers rely on us to gauge their current DEI posture, and to help them institute effective programs going forward. Our team works with companies to help them best assess the demographics of their company, identifying areas of underrepresented groups. We also work with companies to monitor and examine their workplace culture and climate.
Our full suite of DEI services includes examining clients’ recruiting, retention, and promotion practices, analyzing what’s working and what’s not. We recommend initiatives and improvements, such as mentoring programs, affinity groups, and sponsorship programs. Clients also count on us to conduct pay equity audits, prepare affirmative action plans, perform OFCCP audits, and make updates, as needed, to policies and procedures regarding harassment/discrimination and internal complaints. In addition, we review clients’ performance management, discipline, voluntary separation, and discharge processes, and suggest any necessary adjustments.
Training is essential to an employer’s efforts to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. Many of our clients call on us to conduct trainings for executives, managers, and rank-and-file employees in areas of increasing concern, such as diversity, unconscious bias, and social media practices. We offer individual and group training or a variety of digital and virtual options, each adapted to a client’s needs.
Government Reporting and Compliance
Clients rely on our advice not only to develop DEI goals and targets, but also to comply with EEO-1 and state agency reporting requirements. For financial services clients and publicly traded companies, we help them comply with Section 342 of the Dodd-Frank Act, including developing internal policies and practices that identify talented employees and maximize the contributions of all employees, and implement and manage long-term DEI strategy components. For government contractors, we assist them in meeting their VETS-4212 reporting obligations, prepare their affirmative action plans, perform OFCCP audits, and best position them to obtain favorable outcomes in connection with any review of their diversity-related activities.
Crisis Management, Communications, and Litigation
Claims against a company involving harassment, discrimination, or diversity-related issues can be devastating to the company’s brand and reputation. Clients confronted with brand- and reputation-threatening claims seek our advice on how to handle the crisis situation. We conduct internal investigations into the claims, recommend remedial action, and help our clients prepare and review appropriate communications to both internal and external audiences.
In addition, we vigorously defend our clients if their DEI practices are challenged in court. We also advise on crisis prevention measures and apply lessons learned from litigation to further strengthen our clients’ DEI programs and mitigate future reputational and legal risk.