Black Lives Matter
A message from Andy Levander (former-Chair) and Henry Nassau (former-CEO)
Dechert holds as a guiding principle a commitment to building an inclusive firm that reflects the diversity of the world in which we practice. In this statement shared with our community, policy committee Chair Andrew Levander and CEO Henry Nassau reaffirm that commitment and to fighting systemic racism.
As the world struggles with the Coronavirus pandemic, recent events conspired to remind us of the persistence of one of our society’s oldest diseases: racism. It is a condition that infects our most important institutions, that has often proven virulent in its effects, and that continues even now to resist our efforts to end its destructive influence.
We are saddened, angered, and even overwhelmed by the recent series of horrifying events that call attention to the racial divisions in our communities. This should not be the reality that any of us have to face in America or any other country. Communities around the U.S. and the globe have risen up to express their outrage and demand justice. We support their right to protest lawfully, as the ability to stand for right and against injustice is an indispensable component of freedom.
This is a painful and fraught moment in history, but we cannot give in to despair. Many of our colleagues are personally affected by these recent events and have too often experienced discrimination in their own lives. We must respond in the way that we as a community always do: listen and support one another and, just as when our clients’ problems are more difficult than expected, we work harder. The search for justice has always been fueled and enabled by the law. We cannot turn away now simply because the task has become more complicated, or will take longer than we anticipated.
Our firm has worked hard to contribute to the positive resolution of these issues through, among other initiatives, the work of our pro bono program. We will continue to do this work, and to support other organizations that have dedicated themselves to cleansing our legal systems of unlawful bias. We also must continue to join our colleagues, our clients and our communities in standing up for what’s right – affirming that, without exception, black lives matter and that no person should be deprived of their life or their liberty because of the color of their skin, ever. And we must continue to do the hard work of challenging our own biases and assumptions – on race, as well as ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation – and holding ourselves and our firm accountable.
We have asked our Diversity and Inclusion Committee to marshal the firm’s available resources – to spark more discussions about the role we can play in fighting systemic racism – and to take a hard look at what else we need to do to further our efforts.
Like so many of you, we are deeply concerned, but the arc of history is long, and we remain convinced that a fairer and more just world will emerge from these crises. We remain committed to doing our part, and will continue our efforts to make Dechert the best place it can be. We encourage you to stay safe, wish the best for your families, and look forward to the day when we can resume working shoulder to shoulder to advance our mission.
-- Andy Levander and Henry Nassau
A message from Abbi Cohen (Deputy Chair of Diversity & Inclusion) and Alison Bernard (Chief Talent and Human Resources Officer)
Like so many of you, we are horrified by the atrocities that continue to be committed against black people in the U.S. and around the globe. The tragedies inflicted on George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others are unconscionable. The impact of racism and the disregard for human life is an unbearable concept for so many of us, but a part of the daily existence for many of our friends and colleagues. Many of us do not know and have not experienced this kind of fear for our safety, nor have we suffered the daily aggressions that are commonplace for so many based solely on the color of their skin.
We can no longer simply express our apologies for the things that appall us. We must commit to change, starting with education. We must individually take responsibility for learning more. The diversity and inclusion team has assembled many resources that are a starting point, and we are lining up several renowned experts to speak with us. Please join these meetings and commit to learning more. We must also examine and challenge our own biases on a daily basis. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.” We must be more courageous in our self-reflection, and continue to learn about that which we do not see yet.
Beyond our own self-reflection, we must drive change through our actions. The pro bono team and others are working hard to mobilize many options on the pro bono and volunteer front, so that lawyers and business services professionals can take action. We encourage you to get involved fighting for systemic change.
We have been and will continue to host internal forums to make safe spaces for our black colleagues to share their grief and experiences with one another. We will also host an internal town hall that will be open to all. We encourage you to share your questions and thoughts, but listening to one another is the key.
We will soon have a webpage up on the intranet that highlights opportunities, educational resources, and upcoming meetings. But what the website will be missing is what we think is the most important part - we can all do more to support one another through our daily interactions. We ask each of you to spend some time reaching out to colleagues to show support, empathy, care and concern. Our daily interactions and how we treat one another are at the core of a person’s experience in our community. Let’s be sure we are being inclusive, thoughtful and kind to everyone each day. We end with a short poem by Alison Malee:
What a simple way to tell another struggling soul
that there is love to be found in the world.
-- Abbi Cohen and Alison Bernard