In April 2008,
we reported on the State
Bar’s new Diversity
Department and its leader,
I. Godwin Otu. This month,
we spoke with him about
the Bar’s efforts in diversity
ARIZONA ATTORNEY: Have your goals and
initiatives changed since 2008?
I. GODWIN OTU: Some are the same ones I
came in with. For instance, diversity and
inclusion. I can never talk about diversity
without the inclusion portion of it. That
remains a constant.
We’ve also come up with a number of
AZAT: Have your expectations changed?
OTU: I still see the challenges of getting people to understand diversity and inclusion, to
really start to be open-minded about it.
AZAT: Why is that a challenge?
OTU: The problem is, over the years, over
20 years or more, people talk about diversity
and right away they are talking about gender
and race and ethnicity. [But] when we talk
about diversity and inclusion, because of that
mindset, it’s hard for people to say, “OK,
what does diversity mean?”
That is the challenge. To tell people that
it means differences in the talent, in the
skills, in the ability, that we bring to the
table. And it means our ability to use those
things to build a high-performance organi-
So you’re going to see diversity, whether
in gender or race or ethnicity and so on. But
the main thing is to pull all of those talents
and skills together and build a diverse work
force that brings innovation and that gives
you that competitive advantage.
AZAT: So when you talk about inclusion,
does that make the notion more palatable to
people who may be hesitant or resistant?
OTU: Yes, but sometimes people already
have their minds made up about diversity. So
when I say diversity and inclusion, they only
What I’m trying to do now is explain it
this way: Diversity is the mix—we bring peo-
ple from different backgrounds. Inclusion is
getting that mix to work well together.
I hope this gets them away from that
mindset of just gender, or race, or ethnicity.
AZAT: Is that an important step?
OTU: Yes. It’s inevitable that you’re going to
have diversity in the community and in the
workplace. How do you get the best out of
those talents that you have? How do you get
the diversity to work properly?
AZAT: You make it sound like a productivity issue.
OTU: When you exclude people, when you
are not utilizing the people that you have,
you are losing. The organization is losing.
You’re not letting your people get to their