Diversity and Inclusion in Action

Stradley Ronon's Message of Outrage and Commitment

The senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless other Black people have left all of us at Stradley outraged and heartbroken over the blatant racism and violence against the Black community. Sadly, the extrajudicial killings and police brutality experienced by the Black community are not new — it is just that these horrific events are now being caught on camera and are impossible to ignore.

In these distressing days, we have all faced the difficult question of why some lives are deemed less important simply because of the color of their skin. For some, they are confronting a new question, a question that is inescapable because of the outrage and pain caused by the continuing harassment and murder of Black people. However, for others — including many Stradley attorneys and business professionals — the question of why their pain has been normalized and tolerated for so many years is achingly familiar. It is a question they are forced to confront every day of their lives.

Recently, several Black Stradlians shared how they saw themselves and their family members in George, Breonna, Ahmaud, and Tony. They communicated how after police officers murdered Breonna Taylor and Botham Jean in their homes, they were reminded that every Black person is at risk and has no haven from police brutality. They watched as a white woman sought to elicit police brutality by calling 911 and falsely alleging that Christian Cooper, an African American man, was threatening her by merely asking that she leash her dog. These recent events follow the deaths of far too many Black people due to racial injustices, including the disproportionate and alarming rates at which COVID-19 is harming Black communities.

As members of the legal profession, we have a deeper responsibility to work to achieve racial justice and to dismantle racist laws, policies, and practices. To that end, the Diversity Committee plans to directly support anti-racism efforts by taking the following actions, all of which are consistent with the firm’s culture:

  • To assemble an anti-racism task force to identify ways that Stradley can assist in dismantling institutional racism;
  • To identify and target pro bono legal matters that counteract racist policies and to increase firm engagement for these pro bono matters;
  • To partner with diverse organizations through the commitment of financial resources and dedication of personnel to uplift people and communities of color on an ongoing basis;
  • To provide regular opportunities for any Stradlian to discuss how the recent events have affected them and to listen to the experiences of others in the community; and
  • To provide new and impactful training regarding systemic racism and how each member of the firm can become a better advocate for justice and accountability.

The racial injustices that the Black community experiences remind us that the United States still has a long way to go to achieve equality and liberty for all. For true progress to be made, we must be more than non-racist. We must be anti-racist and take affirmative steps to translate our outrage and heartbreak into immediate action. In the words of Cornel West, “[n]one of us alone can save the nation or the world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.” Every member of the Diversity Committee and the Board of Directors is making that commitment here, and we will engage every member of the Stradley family to do the same. We are aware that making this statement is only one step, but it is an important one. With this statement, we affirm not only that Black lives matter, but also that they are worthy, deserving, and loved. And yes, it is also our statement of hope.

William R. Sasso
Chairman, on behalf of the Board of Directors

Brian P. Seaman
Chair of Diversity and Inclusion, on behalf of the Diversity Committee

A PDF of our statement can be downloaded here.