Ballard Spahr was honored today with the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) first-ever Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award for Organizational Diversity and Inclusion.

The award recognizes the firm's initiatives designed to increase internal diversity and promote inclusion at all levels. It was presented to firm Chair Mark Stewart at the MBA's annual convention in Boston.

"Our support for diversity and inclusion at Ballard and in the profession is a core principle of the firm that is embraced at every level and in every office," Mr. Stewart said. "We view it not as an obligation, but as an asset that makes us better lawyers and a stronger firm overall."

Ballard Spahr’s efforts are directed by its Diversity and Inclusion Council, which works closely with Virginia G. Essandoh, the firm's Chief Diversity Officer. In addition to hiring diverse lawyers and staff, they focus on retention by promoting inclusion—the effective integration, development, and engagement of all lawyers.

Ballard Spahr's dedication to diversity is reflected in its leadership team. The firm's Elected Board is 20 percent female and 10 percent minority. Four of the firm’s offices are managed by partners of color and two are managed or co-managed by women.

The firm also partners with outside organizations to promote diversity and inclusion. Ms. Essandoh recently was appointed to the MBA's Diversity Council and will speak at the MBA's Summit on Diversity and Inclusion to be held November 16-17, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

As part of Ballard Spahr’s nationally recognized Consumer Financial Services Group, the Mortgage Banking Group includes more than two dozen attorneys across the firm's offices. They represent clients ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations in both the residential and commercial mortgage banking industries.