Elizabeth Reed focuses on diversity, inclusion in legal profession
In October 2022, The Missouri Bar welcomed Elizabeth Reed as the diversity and inclusion director, a new position created last year. In this Q&A, Reed dives into her role and what drives her passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the profession and beyond.
Can you tell me a little about your background before coming to the bar?
I graduated from Missouri Western State University and have a Bachelor of Science in business administration. I worked for the State of Missouri for over 20 years, and 18 of those years were with the Missouri Department of Transportation. I started off my career in human resources, however, for the last 15 years, I worked in the Equal Opportunity and Diversity Division where I was heavily involved in diversity and inclusion work centered around pipeline development and workplace culture.
What drives your passion for DEI in the legal profession?
I would say my answer extends beyond just the legal profession. I was adopted when I was 2-and-a-half years old by an American Army family when they were stationed in Korea. Moving frequently, I grew up with a strong desire to be accepted and “belong,” not understanding why this was easier in some settings and harder in others. Upon entering the workforce, I still carried this desire with me and saw the ways our system, policies, behaviors, and practices didn’t always lead to that result. I was fortunate enough to stumble into a field of work that allows me to really think about and explore what it takes to create a workplace where all employees can thrive. I want to see things be better than they were before; a world where we see, appreciate, and capitalize on our differences, and where everyone has access to opportunities for success and belonging.
What aspect of DEI in the profession most excites you?
First, the impact it can have on the next generation. I know how important it is for young people of all backgrounds to know what career opportunities can be available to them. A great way to do this is for them to see professionals who have shared experiences and identities and look like them. I am looking forward to finding ways to connect our members with these young people and influence them to choose the legal profession.
Second, the impact it can have on the communities that lawyers live in and serve. If we continue to be intentional about ensuring diversity and inclusion exists in the legal profession, we will end up with lawyers who are representative of the diversity within their communities, who are engaged, and who continue working in this field. A commitment to DEI can also result in having lawyers with a strong foundational knowledge of diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural competency, and who value differences of experience and perspectives.
What do you want lawyers to know about your role?
I am excited to be in this newly created diversity and inclusion director role. The purpose of my role is to oversee and develop impactful efforts to ensure greater diversity, inclusion, equity, and innovation in our workplace, the legal profession, and the membership community. Some of the priorities I have been tasked with are reviewing and coordinating existing diversity and inclusion efforts, along with developing and executing new initiatives.
What do you do for fun outside of work?
My husband and I are raising three kids who are involved in a variety of athletics and activities, so much of my time is spent being an “unpaid” Uber driver and activities spectator, but I couldn’t be happier watching them live their best lives. I have a large extended family and an amazing group of friends I regularly get together with. Outside of that, I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, fishing, and, when there’s time, reading a good book.