The Democratization of Empathy: COVID-19 as the Great Equalizer




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The Democratization of Empathy: COVID-19 as the Great Equalizer

July 27, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EDT

In May 2020, the death of George Floyd sparked outrage across the country and compelled individuals to forgo the safety of their pandemic confinement to take to the streets and demand accountability and change. Not long after, businesses began to speak out to various degrees- spanning social media posts, executive statements, renewed anti-racism commitments, and a windfall of donations. Corporate powerhouses such as NASCAR, Adidas, PepsiCo, Paypal and Twitter were just a few of the names to take action, ranging from banning the confederate flag to increasing the representation of managers identifying as POC. 

Now, as we reflect upon the past year, we ask ourselves what the corporate role is in contributing to and sustaining this social movement? Both top-down from a management perspective, and bottom-up from an employee perspective, how can professionals deliver upon the promises they made and realize lasting progress in the workplace? 

On July 27th, join the FACC-NY HR & Mobility Committee and guest speaker Joseph West, Partner & Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Duane Morris LLP to explore this topic. In addition to his active legal practice, Mr. West has spoken to numerous outlets on the topic of diversity, including Stanford Law, contributed to Human Resources Executive Magazine, and was named a recipient of the Chambers & Partners Minority Lawyer of the Year Award. In 2020, his op-ed “The Talk” went viral for its unfiltered account of life in America as a minority, and the reality of the difficult conversations parents face when teaching their children to navigate complex relationships of race, power and policing.  

Mr. West will be joined by moderator Sonya Sepahban, CEO and Co-founder at OurOffice, for a lively fireside chat format, followed by Q&A from the audience.

Meet the Speaker:


Joseph K. West is a partner Duane Morris’ Trial Practice Group and practices in the area of complex litigation, handling a variety of matters in areas including, but not limited to, class actions, insurance litigation, commercial litigation, zoning and land use, catastrophic injury, products liability, and labor and employment. Mr. West is also a member of the firm’s Partners Board and serves as the firm’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, in which capacity he manages Duane Morris’ comprehensive firm-wide diversity and inclusion program and he chairs the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Consulting Practice. Mr. West advises domestic and global companies on a wide array of legal issues, and also represents, trains and advises numerous associations and companies, including publicly traded companies and their boards and CEOs, on issues related to diversity and inclusion and the compliance, risk management and corporate strategies associated with these issues. He helped establish the first of its kind law firm diversity and inclusion consulting practice at the firm, which has been cited for its innovative approach to crafting sustainable diversity and inclusion programs and solutions for corporate entities. His clients range from startups to Fortune 500 companies and currently include Walmart Stores, Inc., Exxon Mobil, The Carolina Panthers, the Dubai-based Al Ahli Holding Group, Mercedes Benz-USA, Altria, Discover Financial Services, Inc. and Jabil Circuit, Inc.

Meet the Moderator:


Sonya Sepahban is the CEO and Co-founder at OurOffice. She started as an astronaut wannabe and NASA engineer and quickly rose to CTO and business leadership roles with significant P/L, managing large global teams. Sonya’s system engineering background and first-hand experience with the challenges in improving D&I in her own teams led her to join hands with others who share her passion to start OurOffice, the first integrated technology platform for managing Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging.



July 27, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EDT
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