MCCA Recognizes Three Diversity Leaders in Western Region

The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) bestowed awards to diversity standouts in its Western Region during its annual Diversity Dinner, held in Los Angeles, CA on May 14, 2008.

Receiving MCCA's Employer of Choice Award this year are the legal departments of Sony Electronics Inc. headquartered in San Diego, CA and Genentech, Inc. headquartered in San Francisco, CA.  They were chosen for demonstrating a commitment to diversity and creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace.

Sony Electronics Inc. (Sony) legal group has achieved its position as an industry leader in the corporate legal community because the company's corporate structure employs a top down strategy: a corporate director of diversity coordinates company wide diversity efforts and Sony legal group's management works closely with this corporate director of diversity.  As a result, the Sony legal group is committed to pursuing diversity within all of its law and compliance business units.  Currently, four of the seven legal group business units are headed by minorities who report directly to the executive vice president.  Additionally, Sony runs a bi-annual survey whose aim is to promote workforce and firm diversity.  In addition to the internal diversity efforts, Sony Electronic legal group understands the importance of retaining diverse outside counsel.  These efforts amount to a very diverse and diversity-conscious department.  Michael T. Williams, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the legal department at Sony Electronics Inc. accepted the award on behalf of the company.

Genentech, Inc.'s legal department (Genentech) is an industry leader in promoting diversity by establishing clear goals with appropriate strategies to accomplish them.  the legal department aims to increase the number of qualified diverse candidates applying for positions within the legal department.  Strategies to accomplish this include an internal and external focus that requires the legal department to work closely with Genentech's corporate staffing and diversity teams.  A premium is placed on developing fresh recruitment strategies, targeting students in diverse college settings to refresh the talent pipeline, and partnering with other select outside agencies and recruiters that offer a diverse roster of qualified candidates.  the result of these efforts is the recruitment and retention of a diverse legal staff.  Sean Johnson, Senior Vice President and General Counsel accepted the award on behalf of Genentech, Inc.

Receiving the Thomas L. Sager Award is the law firm of Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe with offices across the Western region.  Named in honor of the MCCA Chairman of the Board and DuPont Company Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, this award honors law firms that demonstrate sustained commitment to improving the hiring, retention, and promotion of minority attorneys.

Orrick has long been a leader in diversity, having established a diversity committee more than siteen years ago.  By implementing a broad range of programs and initiatives, the committee ensures that Orrick has a diverse group of lawyers and maintains an atmosphere in which lawyers can thrive.  These programs and initiatives include a strong mentoring program that strives to build productive relationships, enhances work experience, and enables career development.  Orrick also supports minority organizations both in law schools and bar associations and is highly involved in pipeline efforts to recruit minorities.  A highly important element of Orrick's diversity program is the development of affinity groups.  In 2005, Orrick created firm-wide affinity groups for minorities, women, men, and LGBT attorneys to develop recommendations for the recruitment, retention, and professional development of lawyers in each affinity group.  Receiving the award was Lorraine McGowen, partner and chair of the firm-wide diversity initiative.

Prior to the awards dinner, MCCA hosted the "Diversity Dialogue," a panel discussion of diversity best practices featuring the award winners.  Michelle Banks, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer for Gap, Inc. and member of MCCA b oard of directors, moderated the discussion, which included Lorraine McGowen, michael Williams, Sumita Ray, Co-Chair of the Legal Diversity Committee at genentech, Inc., and Maria Williett, Senior Staffing Consultant of the Corporate Groups at Genentech, Inc.

The Diversity Dialogue is part of a professional development series that gives attendees information about award-winning diversity initiatives in their local areas, as well as practical information they can take back to their companies and law firms.  This year, MCCA began holding these dialogues in conjunction with the regional Diversity Dinners, and this programming combination has increased their popularity and overall success.  Dinner attendees are eager to participate in the conversations, and have contributed to a spirited exchange of ideas and opinions during these sessions.

MCCA looks forward to the remaining 2008 dialogues and dinner in the Mid Atlantic and Northeast Regions, and extends an invitation for all to attend this popular and worthwhile exercise.  Please check the MCCA website for dates and registration information regarding these programs.

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