Bernard Guinyard: Shaping Obstacles Into Opportunities  

By Andre LaFontant

At Goodwin Procter LLP, Bernard Guinyard plays a captain’s role in steering the collective ship towards a more diverse and inclusive horizon. His ease in navigating the choppy waters of workplace equality comes from a commitment to a perspective that obstacles create necessary opportunities to innovate.

He states, “Being an effective leader is a result of your ability to listen, to be curious and to question things. [You must also] be vigilant and have the courage to wake up every day not knowing what you’re going to walk into. If I’m talking to an associate, or if I’m talking to a partner, I have to have that dexterity so that I can meet people where they are – we’re all at different stages of our diversity and inclusion journey.”

Guinyard’s comprehensive journey to his current role as Director of Diversity and Inclusion provides him with the experience to examine and address diversity issues that otherwise would be underserviced and overlooked.

For Guinyard, “There is a wider, holistic nature of diversity and inclusion around intersectionality and other dimensions that we traditionally have not explored. A lot of folks will focus specifically on gender, sexual orientation, or people of color, but at times you miss issues because what you haven’t talked about is, for example, race and gender, class and how it factors into someone’s access, or mental health and well-being.”  

Indeed, during his time in this space, Guinyard has borne witness to the considerable efforts firms have made to incorporate genuine diverse and inclusive initiatives. He maintains, however, that there is still much more to accomplish and it will take a steady hand to stay the course.

“The industry recognizes that there are gaps,” says Guinyard. “The path that most organizations take today starts with looking at the data and understanding the lived experience of their employees, then identifying a solution, implementing an initiative, measuring it, and augmenting it. There is this cadence of really trying to get the process right. The challenge, depending on the investment and focus, is the extent of the tailwinds and headwinds an individual or a team has to deal with to really push their initiatives forward.”