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The Black General Counsel Project: HP Inc.'s Harvey Anderson

Dec. 15, 2020, 11:01 AM

Harvey Anderson, the general counsel of HP Inc., said his technology company has created real financial incentives that compel law firms to take real concrete action on diversity.

Since 2017, HP Inc. has required most of its firms to staff at least one diverse attorney on HP Inc. matters or face a 10% cut in fees.

“Through the program we use both the carrot and stick to encourage different behaviors and create new opportunities in law firms,” Anderson said in a recent Bloomberg Law survey.

Black general counsel now make up over 5% of all general counsel in the Fortune 1000, a significant milestone tracked by the Black General Counsel 2025 Initiative and first reported by Bloomberg Law. We reached out to over 50 Black legal chiefs whose companies were in the Fortune 1000 in 2019 or 2020 to learn more about their careers and diversity at the top of the legal industry and heard from 39 of them.

Anderson joined HP Inc., based in Palo Alto, Calif., in 2017 and became general counsel in 2019. Prior to that, he was the chief legal officer of software company AVG Technologies, which was acquired by Avast in 2016.

These responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Bloomberg Law: What are some key matters you and your team are working on right now?

Harvey Anderson: As always, the team is focused on helping the business achieve its commercial goals. In addition, there is an ongoing transformation effort to better align resources on high impact, differentiated work and reduce effort in the tactical and repeatable work.

BL: What’s the best leadership advice you’ve gotten, from mentors or others?

HA: Don’t compare and judge yourself based on the assumed standards of others, rather judge on your own internal standards.

BL: What advice would you give to lawyers who want to go in-house?

HA: When you go in-house you’re choosing a business and an industry, not just an in-house job. The nature of the business and the market will likely have a big impact on your engagement, performance, and opportunities.

BL: What do you wish you knew at the beginning of your career that you know now?

HA: Way more than I knew, so the list is long. At the top is the importance of people and relationships. Developing successful relationships is critical to the success of teams. Also, understanding the importance of alignment, and the significant effort required to achieve it, would have been invaluable.

BL: Why do you think the number of Black general counsel has been on the rise? Have you observed any changes in the past few years that have contributed to recent increases in representation?

HA: There is a broader cultural shift in business that recognizes the value of diverse talent to improve performance. There is also a generational shift creating more opportunities.

BL: When you’re looking to hire outside counsel, how does diversity come into play in your evaluation of law firms?

HA: It plays an important role in who we hire as reflected by the diversity hold-back program HP Inc. initiated several years ago. Through the program we use both the carrot and stick to encourage different behaviors and create new opportunities in law firms. Fundamentally we believe a diverse talent pool, in all dimensions, creates the best outcomes.

BL: What opportunities or changes has the pandemic brought to your job and your team?

HA: The global pandemic has accelerated our transformation journey. It has also reaffirmed the value of our investment in culture and infrastructure to be truly resilient. Finally, despite the tragedy and challenges, I believe it has brought us closer together as people and colleagues and strengthened our relationships.

Questions by Ruiqi Chen and Lisa Helem.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com;
Lisa Helem at lhelem@bloombergindustry.com

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