Minority and Justice Commission
Workforce Diversity Sub-Committee
June 14, 1999
The Workforce Diversity Sub-committee meeting began at 4:15 p.m. on Monday, June 14, 1999. Those who attended were: Judge Deborah D. Fleck, Judge LeRoy McCullough, Ms. Madelyn Botta, Robert C. Boruchowitz, Kenneth E. Payson, David J. Della, and Ms. Donna V. McConnell-Adams. Ms. Lourdes Fuentes and Ms. Mary I. Yu connected through conference call.
Judge Deborah D. Fleck opened the meeting with brief comments. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the redirection of the Workforce Diversity Sub-committee in light of Justice Charles Z. Smith's April 19, 1999 letter with concern for future programs.
Judge Fleck asked for a volunteer from the Sub-committee to attend the Executive Committee meeting on her behalf on Friday, June 18, 1999 at 1:30 p.m. at One Union Square, 17th floor, Room 1718, in Seattle.
Judge Fleck mentioned that a major accomplishment for the Workforce Diversity Sub-committee was the program, "How to be a Good Employer: Tackling the Tough Issues (Implications for Work Force Diversity)" which was offered to judges and administrators at every trial court level: Superior Court Judges and Court Administrators (April, 1998), Juvenile Court Administrators (March, 1999), District and Municipal Court Judges (May, 1999) and District and Municipal Court Administrators (May, 1999).
The members of the Workforce Diversity Subcommittee are particularly grateful to the outstanding team of premier employment law attorneys, Ms. Sheryl Willert, managing partner of Williams, Kastner and Gibbs, Ms. Mary Yu, Deputy Chief of Staff, King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, Ms. Karen Pool-Norby, King County deputy prosecuting attorney, and Ms. Susan Slonecker, also a deputy prosecuting attorney in King County, for donating their time and considerable talent over the past 13 months in making these presentations.
The committee members discussed how well this program has been received as is seen by the attendees' evaluations at each of the presentations. Committee members also discussed the need for continuing the type of education provided in the more general cultural diversity-training program that the Commission has offered and continues to offer through the Education Sub-committee, in a variety of forums. Most recently, this program was presented at the annual state college for new judges. However, the committee members have previously discussed the apparent lack of interest in such a program by more experienced judges and court employees, on the apparent basis that they have already been through such a program in prior years. Although members of the committee recognize that all of us can benefit from continuing education of this more general type, the challenge has been and is expected to continue to be how to recruit more seasoned court employees as attendees at these programs.
Judge LeRoy McCullough suggested the Workforce Diversity Sub-committee review the core mission of the Minority and Justice Commission and the Workforce Diversity Sub-committee's mission. Judge Fleck re-capped the Commission's and the Workforce Diversity Sub-committee's missions and goals from Justice Smith's letter.
After the Sub-committee discussed Justice Smith's letter, the members suggested deleting the section in the letter that states, " and (4) obtaining adequate funding to continue these tasks" because the sub-committee has no vehicle to seek funding. It was agreed to recommend removal of the statement.
- "As you are aware, the Minority and Justice Commission was established by order of the Supreme Court (following the earlier Minority and Justice Task Force) principally as a vehicle for helping judges at all levels of court to better understand racial and ethnic bias, to take creative steps to overcome it to the extent it exists, and to take creative steps to prevent it before it occurs.
- The mandate of the Workforce Diversity Sub-committee is fairly stated in the draft of our new annual report:
- The Workforce Diversity Sub-committee operates under its mission to promote equal employment opportunity and to increase the number of racial and ethnic minority staff members at all levels of the courts.
- During 1991 and 1992, the sub-committee formulated goals, areas of inquiry and recommendations in four primary areas: (1) providing workforce diversity education for existing court personnel; (2) recruiting, hiring, retaining, and promoting minority and court personnel; (3) creating resource lists for each county court system; and (4) obtaining adequate funding to continue these tasks. The sub-committee has worked steadily toward achieving all these goals.'
- In simplest terms, the primary goal of the Workforce Diversity Sub-committee of the Minority and Justice Commission should be identification, recruitment, hiring, training, encouragement, nurturing and advancement of persons of color ("minorities") in the workforce in the courts in the State of Washington."
Judge Fleck suggested the Workforce Diversity Sub-committee revisit the mission statement of the sub-committee. The Sub-committee members agreed to review the sub-committee's mission and goals.
The Sub-committee discussed whether there should be a formal response from the sub-committee to Justice Smith concerning his letter. It was decided that no formal response is necessary, but will invite Justice Smith to the attend the Workforce Diversity Sub-committee work session at the July 23, 1999 Commission meeting. Judge Fleck will contact Justice Smith.
Sub-committee members agreed to review the "How to be a Good Employer: Tackling the Tough Issues (Implications for Work Force Diversity)" program in a couple of years.
The issue of marketing future programs was discussed. The "How to be a Good Employer: Tackling the Tough Issues (Implications for Work Force Diversity)" was marketed by working with existing judicial and court employee associations which seemed to be a successful approach.
Judge Fleck has reviewed the binder from the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the National Consortium of Task Forces and Commissions on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts and reviewed what other states have completed to generate ideas and suggestions on what the Workforce Diversity Sub-committee could accomplish.
State of Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening spoke at the National Consortium meeting about workforce diversity issues. His presentation was well needed and was inspirational. The sub-committee thought a national speaker could address workforce issues on behalf of the Sub-committee and future education programs.
The Sub-committee also discussed for whom Workforce Diversity Sub-committee programs should be offered. It was decided that judges should remain the primary target audience because they are leaders. The Sub-committee discussed presenting an educational program at the Fall Judges' Conference, including a presentation at the 2000 Fall Judges' Conference, which is a joint venture with the Washington State Bar Association. Judge Fleck will talk to Chief Justice Guy about the possibility of a program at the conference.
The sub-committee agreed by consensus to sponsor a national speaker for a mutually agreed upon future judicial conference in lieu of an educational program. Judge Fleck will talk to the Chief Justice about this proposal for Fall Conference.
The Sub-committee discussed possible characteristics of a national speaker. It was suggested to use someone who had personal experience with resistance to diversity and who had managed to work through it. An important factor is to use someone from the judiciary/court system so he or she will be received as a peer.
The sub-committee also discussed whether the national speaker should discuss current events. Some discussion occurred on possible national speakers.
The Sub-committee discussed the use of creative ways to present Workforce Diversity Sub-committee programs. An example was to invite participants to watch a particular movie followed by a discussion led by a speaker/facilitator.
Conferences should provide an avenue to create/spark dialogue or questions. The sub-committee would develop follow-up activities to be conducted between conferences.
Judge Fleck suggested that the committee view its work as progressing in phases, with the first phase being the general educational model on the benefits of diversity in the workplace as was presented in years past by the firm of Achievement Architects North. The second phase in the educational program has been the most recent half day presentation, providing the opportunity to all of the judges and administrators at the trial court level to learn the legal issues of employment law, highlighting what is possible under the restrictions of Initiative 200 in terms of outreach, recruitment and retention of employees to achieve the mission of a diverse workforce reflecting the communities served by our courts. The third phase could be an Implementation Manual prepared for each court in this state, confirming the goal and establishing the challenge to ensure a diverse workforce in the justice system of Washington State, with evaluation tools to assess the beginning point and progress, as well as identification of generally accepted and successful methods of achieving those goals and proposed timelines.
Judge Fleck commented that this would be the phase that very concretely established the "how to" of achieving the goal. This may be helpful as a means to provide busy administrators and judges with a specific outline of practices and assessment tools. Such manuals could be presented personally to each judicial officer in the state, as well as each administrator and human resources director. It is conceivable that the private sector or others in the public sector have such training and goal achievement materials in place, which may be able to be accessed.
Some discussion occurred on whether the Sub-committee should conduct a workforce diversity survey or profile. Some audiences might find survey data or a workforce profile useful.
A review of the current process for filling transfer employment positions was suggested as a project. A campaign or project around marketing the courts as a good place for paid and unpaid employment opportunities was discussed. The Sub-committee could provide materials at community fairs and festivals.
The sub-committee wanted to look at the Workforce Diversity Resource Directory and evaluate how people in the legal community can best utilize the directory.
In conclusion, Judge Fleck asked each of the sub-committee members to generate ideas for possible national speakers the Workforce Diversity Sub-committee could invite and to bring/develop a list of festivals to the next meeting.
The next meeting will be during the Minority and Justice Commission meeting on July 23, 1999 at Seattle University, 900 Broadway, Seattle.
The conference call ended at 5:45 p.m.