VF Legal Department Call to Action: Stand for Change and Protest with Purpose

Jun 19, 2020 Tags: Corporate news, Inclusion diversity

In response to the issue of racial injustice, read about the VF Legal Department’s new initiative, Protest with Purpose. Launched in observance of Juneteenth, it outlines key actions that the Legal team is taking within VF and its brands and in collaboration with external legal service providers and community partners to fight racism, challenge the status quo and advance the cause of equality and justice for all.

 

Like so many, we in the VF Legal Department are heartbroken and outraged by the racism that continues to plague our society.  We believe in equality.  We believe in justice.  We believe in human rights.  For many of us, these fundamental principles are what led us to proudly join this profession.  But these principles are just words if they are not universally upheld and supported by action.

The recent tragic events call us to speak out and try to do something to help eradicate the systemic racial bias that is so deeply rooted in our society and stand with communities of color. This is an issue that has so many layers, but very prominently, a legal one. 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Everyone who touches the law in what they do has an opportunity, and a responsibility, to deliver on the promise of these words and what this great country was founded on.  We hope that our profession can lead the change and create a world worthy of the inspiration that led us down this path.  

We at VF take this responsibility very seriously.  We believe that change is possible and by empowering people to Protest with Purpose – including by using our unique skills, continuing to champion our commitment to inclusion and diversity and holding our partners accountable -- we can be part of that change.  

So, today on Juneteenth, we are proud to announce several key initiatives.

Reaffirming our Commitment to Inclusion & Diversity

The VF Legal Department is deeply committed to inclusion, diversity, justice and equality. We believe that a culturally inclusive and diverse workplace leads to more creative, innovative and impactful results.  Over the last year, we have taken several steps to demonstrate our commitment including establishing a three-year I&D Action Plan, conducting unconscious bias training and making I&D a key pillar of our global strategy. We are dedicated to being an industry leader in inclusion and diversity and an employer of choice to attract and retain top legal talent. To that end, we are participating in the Diversity Lab’s inaugural Mansfield Rule for Law Departments Pilot Program. Through this program, we affirmatively commit to consider 50% underrepresented individuals, defined as women, people of color, persons with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community, when hiring, promoting or providing high visibility opportunities within our Legal Department.

Demanding More of Our Partners

We also seek to engage external partners who share our values and embrace our commitment to recruiting, retaining and promoting a diverse workforce. We are hereby putting our partners on notice that we expect them to join us in our battle for meaningful, lasting change and progress towards dismantling racism.  As part of this commitment, we are asking our law firms to strive to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace by joining the Mansfield Rule for Law Firms for the upcoming program year. In addition, we are signatories to the General Counsel Pledge to the American Bar Association Model Diversity Survey and we will be asking our law firms to provide comprehensive diversity data that will allow us to evaluate to what extent they are working towards the same goals.  We will use metrics to track progress and prioritize working with firms who show commitment to partnering with us on this very important issue.

Launching Inaugural Pro Bono Program

We also know that our goal of achieving equality in the legal profession cannot be separated from the ongoing work of ending racial discrimination and injustice and promoting human rights.  In alignment with VF’s Purpose and Guiding Principles and our commitment to promoting inclusion, diversity, justice and equality, we are incredibly excited to announce that we have established a Pro Bono Program that will provide the opportunity to everyone in the VF Legal Department to take up to 40 hours per year to participate in the legal, civic, community, charitable or educational activities that are most meaningful to us and where our unique skills will be most valuable.  Our team is diverse in every way, including the ways our passion is calling us to action – from efforts to fight racism, protecting voting rights, protecting protesters and engaging with law enforcement to assisting small businesses, and working with nonprofits that aim to enhance justice and equality throughout the legal system – and our program is structured with the flexibility to allow everyone to follow their passion.  In addition to seeking out opportunities with non-profit partners and legal services organizations, we welcome opportunities to partner with our law firms on pro bono initiatives and look forward to exploring ways we might achieve that.

Training, Education & Engagement

For us to drive change, we know that our learning will never be over.   With a strong desire from the team for organizations to engage with, relevant trainings and resources to become better educated on the history and current impact of systemic and targeted racism, the VF Legal Team is in the process of preparing a list of relevant organizations and resources while we work on establishing relationships with organizations at the national and local level. 

WE ARE CALLING ON THE LEGAL COMMUNITY TO JOIN THE FIGHT.  STAND WITH US AS WE STAND FOR CHANGE AND PROTEST WITH PURPOSE.