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Remembering George Floyd And Reflecting On His Impact

May 25, 2021
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By Mike Walsh | CEO, LexisNexis Legal & Professional

It’s been a year since the murder of George Floyd and worldwide protests to eradicate racism and injustice against Black lives. Today, we reflect on Mr. Floyd’s impact on the world and those final 9 minutes and 29 seconds of life that will not be forgotten. Those horrific moments called on each of us to question our assumptions about systemic racism, racial justice, and our ability to drive personal and institutional change for the better.

George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna Floyd, said it most poignantly when she stated that her “daddy changed the world.” Yes, he did, and he opened our eyes to the amount of progress that needs to be made. Mr. Floyd’s unfortunate death made an indelible impact on people across the globe as well as on LexisNexis Legal & Professional. As I shared last year, together with guidance from our African Ancestry Network, the RELX Employee Resource Group (ERG) community, LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation, and hundreds of our people, we’ve worked to accelerate equality for all under the law, including improving Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) within our business and in the communities we serve.

We are focusing on three areas, guided by our mission to advance the rule of law and our overall Inclusion & Diversity strategy. Here are some achievements from the past year:

1. Ensure a culture and practice of inclusion and diversity at LexisNexis Legal & Professional. We believe that diverse teams are essential for innovation, reducing groupthink and enhancing critical thinking and decision-making. We must, therefore, hold ourselves accountable to cultivate an inclusive and diverse workforce, ensuring equality and opportunity for career progression in the workplace. And we must ensure there are ample opportunities for Black professionals to succeed at all levels at LexisNexis, especially in leadership positions.

• Surveyed 10,000 LexisNexis colleagues for ideas to enhance our I&D approach. Received 300+ employee responses and recommendations that are being used to shape our actions. More than 65 employee volunteers are working to implement recommendations.

• Created the I&D Council to drive change, led by Chief I&D Officer Ronda Moore, with Global Senior Leadership Team members representing all business units and functions.

• Engaged employees with I&D training courses and dialogues, including Courageous Conversations, Unconscious Bias, Psychological Safety, and Allyship. There have been 2,773 course completions across the I&D curriculum.

• Piloted mentoring and sponsorship program to focus on diverse talent, now with 66 participants. The mentorship program will be expanded in H2.

• Improved I&D in hiring and promotions. 48% of 2020 hires and promotions into Level 3 to 5 manager roles were women (vs. 35% in 2019) and 17% were ethnic minorities (vs. 8% in 2019).

• Revamped recruiting practices to source diverse talent through new partnerships and developed employer marketing assets to attract diverse talent.

• Established 6 new ERGs to enhance I&D across the globe, including the launch of ERGs for the first time in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

• Launched new ERG hours, providing all employees with two days of time off to participate in ERG activities.

• Developed and released an internal I&D site with more than 20,000 views since its introduction.

• Launched Advance U: I&D resource for employees to build knowledge related to I&D.

• Replaced outdated product and technology language to support an inclusive team environment.  

• Implementing global Race at Work Charter commitments, including capturing ethnicity data and publicizing progress, Board-level commitment to ‘zero tolerance’ of harassment and bullying, making it clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers, and taking action that supports career progression amongst ethnic minorities.

2. Eliminate systemic racism in our legal systems. LexisNexis Legal & Professional has long been committed to advancing the rule of law around the world. We must do more to eradicate racism where it exists and ensure equality for all under the law, transparency of law, independent judiciaries, and accessible legal remedy. We must work with the LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation and our community of customers, leading legal organizations, NGOs, and other stakeholders to raise awareness of inequities and hidden biases. We will work with our network to influence and address inequality in our communities.

• Contributing $1 million over five years to charitable organizations based on joint recommendations from the African Ancestry Network and LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation.

• Hosted Global Technology Organization hackathon to develop technology solutions to drive I&D change both internally and externally.

• Established partnerships with the National Bar Association and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association to build diversity within the legal profession.

o Supported and participated in the National Bar Association Wiley A. Branton Symposium (Oct. 2020).

o Ian McDougall, LexisNexis Legal & Professional General Counsel and President of the LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation, participated in a Minority Corporate Counsel Association Board Task Force on Increasing Racial Awareness General Counsel Roundtable (Oct. 2020).

o Ian McDougall was a speaker on an International Bar Association and Minority Corporate Counsel Association customer panel “General Counsel’s Discuss Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Best Practices and the Perils of Standing Still” (Apr. 2021) that has had over 900 views by lawyers in 41 countries.  

o Rick McFarland, LexisNexis Legal & Professional Chief Data Officer, was a speaker on the Minority Corporate Counsel Association Global TEC Forum customer panel “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility: Artificial Intelligence, Ethics and Racism” (Apr. 2021) attended by ~200 law firms and corporate lawyers.

o LexisNexis led a customer panel at the National Bar Association International Summit (May 2021), “A Candid Discussion on Workplace Inclusion,” with Ronda Moore; the CEO of the Institute of Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession; the immediate past-President Union Internationale des Avocats (and Partner, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP); and African Ancestry Network / LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation Fellow, Pearl Mansu, Student Attorney, Immigration & Human Rights Clinic, University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law. Watch the panel discussion here.

o Ronda Moore was a speaker at the American Bar Association Litigation Section 2021 Virtual Annual Conference (May 2021) on a panel, “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: How to Move from Social Responsibility to Social Justice.”

3. Be an advocate for Black lives. We publicly condemn racism and recognize its deteriorating effects on our society. We will fight against systemic racism, and we will use our influence and resources to partner with organizations dedicated to this cause. LexisNexis’ highly active Employee Resource Groups, including the African Ancestry Network, along with our Inclusion & Diversity program and LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation are instrumental in converting the passion and good intention of our people into pragmatic action.

• Welcomed inaugural group of African Ancestry Network and LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation Fellows, 12 Fellows from the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Law School Consortium (HBCULSC). These students, working with employee mentors, are developing new programs to combat systemic racism.

• African Ancestry Networks across RELX partnered to plan and implement 29 Black History Month programs, resulting in attendance by more than 1,570 employees.

• LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation is working with Blueprint for All, ALL4SC, and the European Law Students’ Association to build curriculums to help students of various age groups understand the core elements of the rule of law, including equity and fairness, while examining racial inequities and determining steps to resolve these inequities.

• Supported voting rights across the US with an election protection resource kit for National Bar Association members. The kits leveraged resources and know-how developed by our Practical Guidance Racial Justice Committee.

• Launched an initiative to recruit National Bar Association members as authors and contributors for LexisNexis Practical Guidance tools, which will provide National Bar Association members with the opportunity to raise their professional visibility and improve the diversity of the current pool of Practical Guidance authors and contributors.

• As part of our relationship with the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, our global Legal team member Natasha Newberry will serve on the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s LMJ Scholarship Program 2021 Selection Committee.

These are just a few examples of our efforts and there’s much more to do. As we acknowledge the life and impact of George Floyd, I’m incredibly proud of the work that our teams are doing. We can make lasting, positive change in the fight against systemic racism and injustice for our employees, for our customers and communities, while strengthening the rule of law.

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Mike Walsh is the Chief Executive Officer of LexisNexis Legal & Professional.