Daily Journal of Commerce Quotes Karen O’Connor on Challenges of New Role as Chair of Stoel Rives’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee

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Partner Karen O’Connor was interviewed for an article in the Daily Journal of Commerce titled “Portland attorney to lead firm’s diversity committee,” published January 26, 2021. (Subscription required.) O’Connor, the newly appointed chair of Stoel Rives’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee (DE&IC) talked about her new role and steps firms in the construction and related service industries can take to attract and retain diverse workforces.

O’Connor, who previously was the DE&IC’s vice chair, said that recruitment of diverse employees at a white-owned firm can be a “chicken or the egg” problem, in particular at the managerial and executive levels. “Attracting people of color is made more difficult if you don’t have people of color,” she said. “You have to go at it from both angles: Recruit at higher-than-entry level, so you can then provide people … entry-level mentors and paths to success.”

O’Connor notes also that retaining diverse employees requires ongoing investment and that firms can “benefit by investing earlier in the pipeline.”

“Firms can forge connections with institutions such as Benson Polytechnic High School that may supply a more diverse candidate pool later,” she said.

For more on O’Connor and the DE&IC, click here.

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