O’Melveny’s Embracing Diversity Day 2009
O'Melveny celebrated its Sixth Annual Embracing Diversity Day on June 3 with events in each office. The festivities, which ranged from panel discussions to museum visits and movie screenings, shared the common purpose of celebrating O'Melveny's diversity, underscoring the importance of inclusiveness, and raising awareness about a wide range of diversity-related issues. The day was both educational and celebratory, with members of the O'Melveny community coming together to learn more about timely issues impacting their communities and the diverse perspectives, histories, and heritage of their colleagues.
The celebration in the Beijing office included a trip to the Beijing Capital Museum, which displays artifacts and exhibits from all over China, with an emphasis on Beijing’s history. An office dinner at a restaurant featuring Mongolian cuisine followed the museum tour. In addition, the office displayed a diversity collage, which contained items contributed by attorneys and staff in the office that represented the diversity in their lives.
After enjoying a camaraderie-building lunch together a local restaurant, the Brussels office gathered for “Competition 2009,” a quiz game developed by members of the office with questions on history, culture, arts, sports, fashion, and food.
The Century City office hosted a luncheon presentation with keynote speaker, Brad Sears, Executive Director of The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. The Williams Institute produces and disseminates high quality research to the legal community, the media, and the public in an effort to advance sexual orientation law and public policy. In addition, members of office compiled a “Diverse Foods and Flavors” cookbook containing sixty family recipes submitted by attorneys and staff members of various ethnic backgrounds.
The Hong Kong office celebrated Embracing Diversity Day by hosting a luncheon featuring guests who raised awareness about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong.
The London office welcomed guest speaker Katie Ghose, director of the British Institute of Human Rights, for its Embracing Diversity Day breakfast presentation. Following breakfast, Katie delivered a thought-provoking presentation addressing diversity from a human rights perspective. The day in London culminated in an informal reception held in the office’s atrium and outdoor terrace area.
The Los Angeles office celebrated the day with two events. The first was a luncheon discussion with Dr. John Eastman, Dean of Chapman School of Law, on the future challenges for diversity efforts as barriers continue to be broken. During his presentation, Dr. Eastman addressed various hot topics, including, among other issues, the varying forms of diversity and the importance of intellectual and ideological diversity. And, the second event was a panel discussion during which three members of the office shared their experiences in breaking through their personal barriers to success, including those created by their diverse dimensions. A buffet with traditional desserts from a variety of cultures complemented the panel discussion.
The New York office got off to an early start by participating in a diversity-focused email survey in the days leading up to Embracing Diversity Day. The survey, which asked members of the NY office to identify little known facts about themselves such as the number of languages they speak and number of continents they have visited, was designed to highlight diversity among colleagues. The survey results were revealed at a cocktail reception featuring a student jazz trio and a "How well do you know New York" quiz. Earlier in the day, the NY office enjoyed a docent-guided tour of the collection at the American Folk Art Museum.
The Newport Beach office welcomed guest speaker David Waithaka. Born into extreme poverty in the slums of Mathare, Kenya, David was subsequently adopted at age 16 by an American family and raised in the United States. After completing college and graduate school at the University of Minnesota, David took a position with a major corporation. After a successful career, he realized he wanted to give back to the city where he was raised. Leaving his comfortable position in corporate America, David returned to help run the Kenya Youth Business Trust of Mathare, an organization whose goal it is to raise a generation of children with the skills necessary to pull their families out of poverty by building on the principles and values of sports. Now married and father of 2 boys, David shared the challenges he has faced, both in coming to the United States and in returning to his home country.
The San Francisco office continued its tradition of celebrating its diversity with a cultural potluck and film screening. Over lunch, panelists discussed the extensive pro bono work the Firm has done with The Mississippi Center for Justice to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The discussion was followed by a screening of the critically acclaimed Hurricane Katrina documentary, Trouble the Water, which chronicles the experiences of a young couple struggling to cope in the aftermath of the hurricane. The office wrapped up the day's festivities with a reception featuring cocktails from around the world located in offices decorated to represent a different country or culture. Participants accessed each office with a “passport” that was stamped upon entry.
The Shanghai office gathered to hear guest speaker Betty Barr, who shared her life stories of living in Shanghai and Hong Kong from World War II to the present. Her life stories, which have been published into three volumes of memoirs, intertwined with the history of modern China. In addition, a slideshow highlighting the hometowns, families, and cultural traditions of the office’s lawyers and staff members was displayed before and after Ms. Barr's presentation. Shanghai employees also enjoyed the Southeast Asian delicacies prepared by an Indonesian restaurant for the lunch.
The Silicon Valley office visited the San Mateo County History Museum exhibit, "Land of Opportunity: The Immigrant Experience in San Mateo County, " which features the diverse people who have come to the area and how they have made it one of the most culturally rich parts of the country. The office continued its celebration with the "OMM Diversity Gallery," featuring diversity wallboards made up of photographs and other items reflecting the backgrounds of staff and lawyers in the office. The wallboards were displayed for viewing during lunch and a cocktail reception, and several people volunteered to speak about their entry to the wallboards.
The Singapore office focused their first Embracing Diversity Day celebration on learning more about each other outside of the work context. Each member of the office contributed 3 photographs they felt best represent who they are as a person and which highlight the richness they each add to the diversity in the office. The photographs were displayed as part of a slideshow during which each member of the office spoke about the photographs they selected, and why. They also were assembled into a framed collage and displayed in the office.
The Tokyo office welcomed Mitsuru Claire Chino, corporate counsel at a Japanese trading company, who gave a fascinating presentation highlighting women's issues in the Japanese work force. After a thought-provoking question-and-answer session, everyone enjoyed a buffet lunch featuring a variety of dishes from Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Australia.
The Washington, DC office welcomed storyteller Megan Hicks, who performed her original works, "What was Civil about that War" and “Invisible Spies." Ms. Hicks brings historic characters off the printed page and into a story, bringing them to life in a listener's imagination. The office continued its Diversity Day tradition of hosting a "Taste of OMM" luncheon, featuring dishes from around the world. As the group filled their plates, many paused to read the storyboards on display highlighting many of the civil rights cases the Firm has handled pro bono. The day's events also included a panel discussion on the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.