On January 31, 2019, MoFo was one of 36 co-founding member law firms in Belgium to officially launch the Legal Diversity & Inclusion Alliance (LDIA), an organization committed to building a diverse and inclusive workplace in which everyone benefits from equal treatment and opportunities, the first of its kind specific to law firms in the Belgian market.
Over 200 individuals attended the launch party at the Hotel Le Châtelain in Brussels during which representatives from founding member firms signed a charter pledging to take tangible actions to:
- Build a cross law firm alliance, focusing on diversity and inclusion.
- Exchange good practices on diversity and inclusion.
- Raise awareness of non-discrimination and diversity issues by combining efforts in organizing events, workshops, training sessions, and more.
The event opened with welcome remarks given by representatives from two of the initiative’s founding firms, Ruxandra Cana, Managing Partner of Steptoe & Johnson LLP (Brussels), and Philippe De Baere, Managing Partner of Belgian firm Van Bael & Bellis. Following remarks, the agenda featured a series of keynote speakers:
- Bianca Debbaets, State Secretary of the Brussels Capital Region, spoke about her government’s initiatives in fostering diversity and equal opportunities at a political level.
- Peter Callens, President of the Brussels Bar (representing the Dutch language section), and Pierre Sculier, Former President of the Brussels Bar (from the French language section).
- Patrick Charlier, Director of UNIA, outlined some of the work his association does to combat all types of discrimination in Belgium.
- France Delobbe, Associate Member & Secretary General of the Board, presented her association Women on Board which is dedicated to promoting female access to directorship roles within Belgian public and private companies.
- Sven Vandyck, Chairman of Open@Work, explained his initiative of bringing
in-company diversity and LGBT networks together and inspiring more companies and organizations to create similar networks.
Attendees from MoFo included partners Tom McQuail, who signed the charter pledge for MoFo, and John Smith, associates Guillermo Arribas Floría, Aniek Schadd, and Ronan Tigner, trainee/stagiaire Teodora Peevska, Office Administration Manager Caroline Williams, and Senior Communications Manager (Europe) Marie Armstrong-Hebert.
LDIA is in the process of appointing a board of directors, which will include Caroline Williams from MoFo, and plans to continue building the alliance over the next year. Representatives from member firms will meet regularly to organize events and discuss initiatives to further LDIA’s mission statement. Events on the horizon include each member firm celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8, 2019 – MoFo Brussels will organize a lunch with a quiz centered on gender issues and famous international women.
During the Belgian Pride Festival, on May 16, 2019 there will be an after work networking evening for all LDIA members, in collaboration with Open@Work. This event will focus on encouraging work environments where everyone is comfortable being “out in the workplace.” On October 10, 2019, in connection with World Mental Health day, LDIA members will focus on addressing mental health within their firms, particularly how a commitment to diversity and inclusion can improve overall mental health in the workplace. LDIA’s inaugural year will round out with a network event on December 3, 2019 in connection with the International Day of Disabled Persons.