Connecticut attorney general implores companies to hire diverse workforce

March 04, 2021

Shot of William Tong standing

“Equity, diversity, inclusion and justice mean more than having a certain percentage of your workforce or student body from underrepresented communities,” William Tong, attorney general for the state of Connecticut, recently told member of the School of Law’s Student Bar Association.

“It means more than diversity for diversity’s sake,” Tong added. “It is not just important to have diverse people in your workforce, but it’s important to have diverse people in leadership positions who can do something about the challenges we face.” 

Tong and Khalilah Brown-Dean, associate professor of political science and senior director for inclusive excellence at Quinnipiac University, discussed diversity and inclusivity in the workplace during a webinar on March 2.

The SBA hosted the virtual event, the first of its Diversity and Inclusivity Month activities. Brown-Dean and Tong answered questions about ways to further diversity, the impact of imposter syndrome, the value of mentorship and the need to tell the “unvarnished truth” to address racism in the American workplace.

Brown-Dean, an expert on race, criminal punishment, mass incarceration, voting rights and U.S. elections, was asked how to cultivate an environment where underrepresented people and minority groups can thrive in professional spaces and places of power.

“Recruitment is only one piece of the challenge,” Brown-Dean said. “I think we are all aware of the need to diversify our spaces, whether it is courtrooms or boardrooms or classrooms. But for me, the real question is about retention and how to create structures that support the success of people in a holistic sense.

“Part of what has to happen is that people have to be willing to call a thing a thing,” she added. “We don’t have to rationalize it. We don’t have to theorize it. We don’t have to call it some fancy name in order to make ourselves feel better. What we have to do is be able to say that in a country that has cultivated this hostility over 200-plus years, it will not go away overnight or through a couple of piecemeal actions.”

Tong is the 25th attorney general to serve Connecticut since the position was established in 1897. He took office in January 2019 as the first Asian American elected at the statewide level in Connecticut.

“Attorney General Tong and Dr. Brown-Dean were incredibly insightful, wise and inspiring,” said George Morgan Jr., president of the SBA. “Their grasp on what it takes as a minority or underrepresented individual to thrive in a world that was not built for the success of everyone was realistic yet empowering.”

Click here to watch the panel discussion.

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