Monte Frank: Diversity — A pledge for leadership
With Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaching on Monday, it is time to reflect on our core values and proclaim our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
When I became the vice president of the Connecticut Bar Association in 2014, many were rightfully critical of the group’s lack of diversity and inclusion.
While there were some faint conversations occurring, there was very little focus and almost no action.
We did not even have a diversity and inclusion policy.
At that time, the Connecticut Law Tribune lamented the lack of diversity in the profession, as demonstrated by the selection of me as the CBA’s vice president.
When I read it, I was taken aback, not because I thought the author was wrong, but because the author did not know me at all and was judging me.
A more recent blog article in the Hartford Courant similarly pointed out the lack of diversity among the current candidates for governor (or lieutenant governor in my case).
However, my commitment to diversity and inclusion should not be measured by the color of my skin, but by who I am inside, what I have accomplished to date and what Oz Griebel and I pledge for the future.
As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I fully understand the impact of racism and biases taken to their extreme, as most of my grandparents’ families were murdered along with 6 million Jews, including over 1 million children.
We must never tolerate politics of hatred, and stomp it out whenever and wherever we see it.
I also learned a great deal following the Sandy Hook School shooting.
My eyes were opened to gun violence on our city streets, and the biases that go with it. One moment of clarity occurred at an event I spoke at in Harlem. Jumaane Williams, a New York City councilman representing Flatbush, looked at me and said he understood the pain of the families of Newtown and “it was a terrible thing.”
Then he queried why it is that when a shooting occurs in the suburbs, people assume it’s a mental health issue, but when it happens in Harlem or Bedford Stuyvesant, implicit bias leads to another conclusion.
I have had similar conversations with others from Bridgeport and Hartford
As the president of the Bar Association, I worked hard to advance diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
We developed a policy, implemented a plan, held two diversity summits which brought together leaders of the private and public sector to develop a pledge and plan, and are now in the beginning stages of a pipeline program.
As a result, diversity and inclusion is becoming part of the fabric of the Bar.
As a candidate for lieutenant governor, I promise the same level of commitment for the Griebel-Frank administration.
As it did when I was CBA president, diversity and inclusion will facilitate better decisions for our government.
Accordingly, Oz Griebel and I have adopted the following policy:
The Griebel-Frank campaign and administration will seek people of character, integrity, and ability regardless of gender, gender identity, race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability or veteran status.
We are committed to diversity in our staff, appointments, committees, task forces and their respective leaders.
We will be a richer and more effective administration because of diversity, as it increases Connecticut’s strengths, capabilities, and adaptability. Through increased diversity, our campaign and administration will more effectively address constituent and societal needs with the varied perspectives, experiences, knowledge, information, and understanding inherent in a diverse relationship.
We pledge this to the people of Connecticut. We seek to attract the best ideas and take full advantage of the tremendous intellectual capital in this state, so that together, we can build a better future for everyone.
In an address at Spelman College in 1960, Martin Luther King Jr. preached: “If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving.”
We must and shall keep moving forward.