From the employees we hire to the clients we serve, Sands Anderson values and pursues diversity and inclusion. When recruiting and developing our talent, our goal is to create successful opportunities for attorneys and staff from all backgrounds. We believe in hiring the right person for each position, and creating an inclusive environment in every aspect of our firm.
We know that the diverse backgrounds of our attorneys and staff enrich our perspectives and deepen the services we provide to our clients. We recognize that many of our clients desire a law firm focused on fostering greater diversity. Most importantly, embracing diversity and fostering inclusion is the right thing to do.
To those ends, we strive to recruit and retain a mosaic of people who contribute their strengths to our collaborative, close-knit team. Our team brings varied interests and histories and we’re proud to work together, motivate each other, and learn from one another.
Our Diversity & Inclusion Committee
Sands Anderson’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee leads the firm’s efforts to expand its pipeline of talent; retain that talent by supporting each individual’s development as each works for our clients; and implement other strategies to bring more women, minorities, and other historically underrepresented communities into our profession.
Our committee has established the below Diversity Action Plan to guide and focus our activities as a committee for the next year. The Committee intends that through this work, together we will see meaningful change.
Why do we exist?
The Diversity and Inclusion Committee leads the Firm’s work of making systemic, organizational changes to embed diversity and inclusion into the Firm’s DNA.
How do we behave?
Our behaviors are defined by these core values:
– Welcoming to all
– Eager to learn
What do we do?
We advise the Firm’s Board of Directors on and implement strategies for improving diversity and inclusion in our workforce, the legal profession, and community-at-large.
How will we succeed?
We will accomplish our purpose through these strategic anchors:
- Improve our fluency with and knowledge of diversity and inclusion strategies and issues
- Improve the pipeline of and embrace opportunities to hire diverse applicants
- Retain and support our talent by creating an inclusive workplace
- Implement accountability systems for our commitment to D&I initiatives
What are we focused on?
Increase the diversity of the firm’s employees and its pipeline of applicants by evaluating the firm’s hiring criteria to overcome any hidden barriers and identifying and cultivating relationships with law schools, both student and professional affinity groups, and other recruiting partners, such as the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys’ Law Student Scholarship Program and the VCU-Rehabilitation Research and Training Center.
Retain diverse talent by creating an inclusive work environment that affords meaningful opportunities for development and advancement through a mentoring program that supports each attorney’s career goals and the solicitation of employee feedback about our workplace to create an inclusive environment.
Improve our work through metrics and accountability mechanisms, including publicly stating the Firm’s commitment to the adoption of a communications strategy about the committee’s work internally and externally and working with firm leadership to consider the impact of diversity and inclusion issues in all aspects of our business.
Increase awareness, competencies, fluency, and dialogue on diversity and inclusion-related issues within the committee, the Firm, and with Clients through training and educational opportunities that benefit both the firm and our clients.
Committee members are actively involved in the following specialty bar associations and organizations whose missions include the advancement of women and minorities in our community:
- Asian-Pacific American Bar Association
- Law Firm Alliance Diversity Forum
- Metro Richmond Women’s Bar Association
- Old Dominion Bar Association
- Virginia Bar Association, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee
- Virginia State Bar’s Diversity Conference
- Virginia Women Attorney’s Association
- Workforce Inclusion Network, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities
In June 2023, Sands Anderson achieved Midsize Mansfield Certification, having completed an 18-month collaboration with Diversity Lab to track, measure, and achieve diversity in the firm.
Named after Arabella Mansfield, the first woman admitted to practice law in the United States, the Mansfield certification process aims to increase the number of lawyers from historically underrepresented communities for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, and all attorney positions.
In achieving certification, Sands Anderson has considered diverse lawyers at least 30 percent of the time for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitches, lateral lawyer hiring, and more. For the purposes of the Mansfield Rule, this includes lawyers who are women, from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, from the LGBTQ+ community and lawyers with disabilities.
Sands Anderson is one of only 140 midsize firms nationwide to become Mansfield Certified, and one of the first three midsize firms with lawyers in Virginia to achieve this milestone. The certification process was led by members of the Board of Directors, Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and Administrative staff.
Faith Alejandro, Diversity & Inclusion Chair, explains, “By adopting the Midsize Mansfield Rule, we are joining a community of law firms that recognize how diverse and inclusive teams work smarter and harder for the benefit of our clients. This public commitment to the intentional work of discovering otherwise untapped talent will enhance our ability to bring our best and most innovative work forward over the next 180 years.”
Through continual participation in the Mansfield Rule and the program’s objective, measurable goals, we can be more intentional about providing opportunities for historically underrepresented communities within our Firm culture and in our profession. Not only is it the right thing to do, but our lawyers will bring a variety of experiences and perspectives to each legal matter, better enabling us to meet our clients’ evolving needs.
More information on Diversity Lab’s Midsize Mansfield Rule can be found here.
We regularly attend, host, and speak at programs, panel discussions, and conferences that support our diversity & inclusion efforts, including the following:
- Diversity Initiatives and Benevolent Employment Discrimination: Mitigating Claims for Well-Intentioned Companies, a Strafford webinar where Faith Alejandro presented as a panelist
- Top 10 DEI Tips from Two Asian-American Partners, an article in the VBA Journal co-written by Faith Alejandro
- How Lawyers Can Help Employers Meet Their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Goals, an update written by Faith Alejandro
- Empowering Empathy: Effectuating Diversity and Inclusion Policies in the Workplace, an update written by Lindsay Bunting-Eubanks
- Cynthia Hudson is Chair of the Governor’s Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in the Law. The Commission issued its second report that provides policy recommendations to confront the impact of discriminatory laws in Virginia
- Time to Talk Town Hall: Commission Update with Proposals, Virginia State Bar Diversity Conference, July 2020. Click to hear from attorney Cynthia Hudson on how state and local governments are dealing with the challenges of today’s climate.
- Time to Talk Town Hall: The Police and City Government View, Virginia State Bar Diversity Conference, July 2020. Click to hear from attorney Cynthia Hudson on her insights from a former city attorney’s point of view.
- Beyond Diversity: Inclusion 2.0, Richmond Society of Human Resource Management’s 5th Annual Diversity and Inclusion Symposium, March 21, 2019. Click to read D&I Committee Chair Faith Alejandro’s takeaways from Richmond SHRM’s 5th Annual Diversity and Inclusion Symposium
- Legal Professionals from Diverse Backgrounds, Virginia Bar Association University of Richmond Law School Council Spring Symposium, April 13, 2018
- Coffee and Collegiality, Asian Pacific American Bar Association and Hill-Tucker Bar Association, December 2018
- Diversity Conference Annual Forum, University of Richmond, November 2018
- Diversity & Inclusion Workshop, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, November 2018
- Beyond Diversity: What’s Next, Richmond Society of Human Resource Management’s 4th Annual Diversity and Inclusion Symposium, March 15, 2018
- CommUnity: Celebrating the Heroes Amongst Us, Richmond Society of Human Resource Management’s 3rd Annual Diversity and Inclusion Symposium, March 23–24, 2017
- Overcoming Bias Book Event & Social, Hosted by Sands Anderson, September 2017, Sands Anderson invited clients and friends of Sands Anderson for an intimate, lively, and interactive discussion led by the authors of “Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships Across Differences,” Tiffany Jana and Matthew Freeman. During the discussion, we explored how bias affects us and learn how to implement strategies to overcome bias by building authentic relationships. Click to see photos from our Overcoming Bias Event & Social.