23 March 2022

Day for the elimination of racial discrimination

Last Monday (21st March) is globally marked as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This year the UN put focus on the theme “VOICES FOR ACTION AGAINST RACISM”, a simple message can be a powerful vehicle to encourage people everywhere to strengthen and consolidate their voices against racism, to mobilise against all forms and manifestations of racial discrimination and injustice, and to ensure a safe environment for those who speak up. It lends itself towards telling personal interest stories and can feature people and populations from across the world. 

“LISTEN UP: Ensure that people of African descent and those who stand up against racism are protected and heard, and their concerns are acted on”. (High Commissioner’s report on racial justice and the Agenda Towards Transformative Change for Racial Justice and Equality)

The background on this day looks back to apartheid pass laws in the 60s, when the policed in Sharpeville (South Africa) shot and killed 69 people who were demonstrating peacefully against these laws. Ever since, apartheid has been dismantled and there exists an International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, almost guaranteeing universal ratification, but still necessary and yet combating injustice and stigma suffered by many individuals and communities all around the world. 

So now, let’s take a look on what is being done in the sphere of law firms, and plus what else needs to be acknowledged and put into practice. First of all, highlighting the importance of strengthening meaningful and safe public participation and representation in all areas of decision-making to prevent and combat racial discrimination. Second, reaffirming the importance of full respect for the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and of protecting civic space. And last, recognizing the contribution of individuals and organizations that stand up against racial discrimination and the challenges they face.

Norton Rose Fullbright has commemorated the day by reaffirming their bet on racial, ethnic and cultural diversity. As a firm, we will always stand together against racism, bigotry and brutality, they say. We believe that it is up to each of us, as individuals and as a law firm, to turn these painful events into something that makes a positive difference. More and better must be done through accountability and commitment, is their thesis. In each region where they are currently working, they are walking forward to perform real changes within recruitment and development policies, granting opportunities to their Black, Asian and other ethnic minorities.

Backer McKenzie publishes an annual report on global inclusion and diversity which they consider foundational to their culture and strategic vision, making their global community stronger, more interesting and richer in thought; plus they have recognized that this helps to solve complex problems and designing practical solutions for their clients. It is a fact that diverse teams make innovation possible, by providing greater insight to client needs and leading to better performance. The firm counts with more than 13,000 employees from 46 different countries that speak more than 80 languages, among their targets (partners, business professionals, etc.) they have 40% women, 40% men and 20% non-binary.

In DLA Piper, another world’s largest law firm, has more than 4,500 lawyers working in over 40 countries worldwide, in literally all continents. The company is made up of individuals who bring their own cultures, backgrounds and experiences to work. They embrace and value the diversity of our people in ways that are inclusive and meaningful. The result is a legal environment rich with collaborative thought, insight, and talent that can have a positive and lasting impact in the communities in which they live and work.

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