Report of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee

AuthorBy Nicholas K. Holmes
Nicholas K. Holmes
Published in The Construction Lawyer, Volume 40, Number 2, Spring 2020. © 2020 American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion
thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.
Each One of Us Needs to “Be That One Guy”
By Nicholas K. Holmes
Nicholas K. Holmes is chair of the Diversity & Inclusion
Committee of the ABA Forum on Construction Law
and a shareholder with Devine Millimet in Manchester,
New Hampshire.
On February 14, 2017, Outi
Hicks, a 32-year-old carpenter
apprentice and single mother
of three, was bludgeoned to
death with a metal pipe by a
co-worker at a construction
site in Fresno, California. Site
workers did not know that the
assailant had been taunting
and harassing Ms. Hicks for
days before he killed her.
The incident resonated for
Vicki O’Leary, an ironworker
with more than thirty years’
experience. During her career, she had been harassed and
she had seen the damage done to other women in the industry.
Vicki and other union women questioned why there wasn’t
“that one guy” who could have stepped in to stop harassment
or abuse. Her concern led her to create the pilot program “Be
That One Guy” to help empower other ironworkers to speak
up and take action when a tough situation arises on a job site.
Vicki was the keynote speaker at the Midwinter Meet-
ing’s Diversity and Inclusion Breakfast in Tucson. She shared
her journey from legal secretary to veteran ironworker. She
also shared the story of her accomplishments in the three
years since Ms. Hicks’s death. Her “Be That One Guy pro-
gram earned the support of the Ironworkers International
Union president and has been rolled out to all 130,000 Union
members. In March 2019, Vicki received Engineering News-
Records 2019 Award of Excellence for her work.
On my ight home, I found myself reecting about times
I may have failed to “be that one guy” and stood by quietly
when a co-worker or colleague was mistreated. The Forum
is a wonderful organization, but we can do better to make
it more welcoming and inclusive. We all need to strive to be
that one guy who stands up for others. Here are three con-
crete actions you can take.
1. Attend the Diversity and Inclusion Breakfasts.
Friday morning can come early, but attend the Diversity and
Inclusion Breakfasts held at each national meeting. First, they
are an opportunity to learn from incredible speakers. For
example, those who attended the 2015 Annual Meeting in
Boca Raton will never forget the presentation by Fred Gray, a
civil rights lawyer who worked alongside Martin Luther King
Jr. on voting rights and school integration, and defended Rosa
Parks after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery
city bus. Just attending the Diversity and Inclusion Breakfasts
demonstrates that diversity and inclusion are core Forum
values and reminds us of the work that still needs to be done.
2. Sponsor a Diverse First-Time Attendee.
If you are a Forum member attending one of the Forum’s
three national meetings with a diverse rst-timer, the Forum
will waive the registration fee for both of you. We created this
program to encourage Forum members to recruit diverse law-
yers to attend their rst national meeting. It is available to the
rst 10 Forum members who register for a national Forum
meeting and who also register and bring along a diverse law-
yer—their registration fee will also be waived. Bring a young
associate from your ofce or a lawyer on the other side of a
case. More information is available on the Forum’s website.
3. Commit to Speaking Up.
Despite all the advances that our profession and our organi-
zation have made to become more diverse and inclusive, bad
things still happen. People are marginalized because of their
status, rude and insensitive comments are made “in jest,” and
people are excluded. Commit to speaking up the next time an
incident happens and extending a hand to the person slighted
or attacked.
At its January meeting, the Governing Committee of the
Forum voted unanimously to adopt a strategic plan that pri-
oritizes specic action items we will take to implement the
recommendations of our diversity consultant. During the
coming months, you will hear more as these new initiatives
fall into place.
While the Forum’s policies and programs are important,
the goal of becoming a more inclusive organization will
be achieved on a person-to-person basis. Whether it is at a
national meeting of the Forum, in the construction bar where
you practice, or even within your own rm, reach out to new-
comers and welcome them. Experience has shown that this
simple act can be the most effective way of helping people feel
accepted and included. Please join me as we work towards
that goal.

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