The Dance of Diversity and Inclusion
Women corporate leaders discuss their companies’ recent efforts to increase opportunities for diverse lawyers

by Julia Cardi
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Diversity means getting an invitation to the party, and inclusion means getting asked to dance. That’s the metaphor corporate leaders used to characterize how employers should think about earnest efforts to improve opportunities for people of diverse identities during a Sept. 16 panel hosted by Stinson and the Association of Corporate Counsel.

For Airbnb associate general counsel Miko Brown, a party served as a lightbulb moment about inclusion for her. She talked about a conversation she had with a friend who had worked as an associate at one of her former law firms but left after about a year. The firm was known for holding its parties at Cherry Hills Country Club, and the parties made her friend uncomfortable. As a Black man, he said, he doesn’t like driving through the neighborhood at night and the only people who look like him at the country club are members of the waitstaff. He hated the prospect of going to several of those parties each year for the whole time he would be at the firm.

Brown said the realization that firm leadership hadn’t considered the implications of the party venue for people of color’s sense of belonging but that it made her friend feel out of place enough to leave his job as a result was revelatory for her “because I live diversity and inclusion,” she said. “And that had never dawned upon me, that we were losing or not recruiting in the first place top Black talent because we’re known as the firm that had everything at Cherry Hill Country Club. … So when you create the programs, when you examine the system, make sure you’ve got a lot of different people at the table.”

The panel also included Stinson’s chief diversity and inclusion officer Ann Jenrette-Thomas, Summit Materials CLO and executive vice president Anne Lee Benedict, National Bank Holdings Corporation CAO and general counsel Angela Petrucci, and Center for Legal Inclusiveness CEO Sara Scott.

 

This complete article appears in the Sept. 21 issue of Law Week Colorado. To read other articles from that issue, order a copy onlineSubscribers can now access a digital PDF here.