Black general counsel now make up more than 5% of all general counsel in the Fortune 1000, a key milestone first reported by Bloomberg Law in August and tracked by the Black General Counsel 2025 Initiative.
After our story ran, reporter Ruiqi Chen and I started work on a larger project inspired by this development. We put together a list of questions and reached out to more than 50 Black legal chiefs whose companies were in the Fortune 1000 in 2020 or in 2019. The idea? To give readers a firsthand look at the leadership strategies of these top lawyers and the work they do to increase diversity in their legal departments and with the outside counsel that they hire.
The 39 general counsel who participated in this project, co-edited by Rebekah Mintzer, also offered their insights on the key projects their teams are working on during the coronavirus pandemic and their thoughts on the progress Black general counsel have made.
“Companies are seeing that people with diverse backgrounds contribute to better decision making. As a result, companies are making tangible commitments to hiring, developing, and promoting a more diverse workforce,” Guardian Life Insurance General Counsel Kermitt Brooks said in the survey.
The general counsel also shared how much they can directly impact outside counsel diversity. “In every instance where I’ve had the opportunity to have a relationship partner who is female, LGBTQ+, Black, or another person of color, I sought it out. Always. I challenge firms to change that practice,” Albertsons Companies General Counsel Juliette Pryor said.
Uber General Counsel Tony West also underscored the importance of speaking up. “As a person of color at a senior level, it can be easy to play it safe and not expend any capital to move the organization toward a more inclusive environment that expands the number of diverse voices in the room. However, it’s important to remember that you are there for a reason,” West said. “You can and should use that capital and position of influence to hold your organization accountable to the values it espouses.”
To read more insights from the top lawyers featured in our Black General Counsel Project, click on their names below.
- AKIN HARRISON of TEGNA
- ANGEL WILLIS of Sealed Air
- AUDREY BOONE TILLMAN of Aflac
- BRADLEY GAYTON of Coca-Cola
- BRANDON NELSON of Jet Blue
- BRIAN ELLIS of Danaher
- CARLOS BROWN of Dominion Energy
- CHONDA NWAMU of Ameren
- CHRISTOPHER LEWIS of Edward Jones
- CRAIG BEAZER of KeyBank
- DENEEN DONNLEY of Con Edison
- DESIREE RALLS-MORRISON of Boston Scientific
- DUANE HOLLOWAY of U.S. Steel
- HARVEY ANDERSON of HP Inc.
- JULIETTE PRYOR of Albertsons Companies
- KERMITT BROOKS of Guardian Life Insurance
- KODWO GHARTEY-TAGOE of Duke Energy
- LANESHA MINNIX of Flowserve
- LEWIS STEVERSON of Corning
- MARCUS BROWN of Entergy
- MARK DARRELL of Spire Inc.
- MICHAEL-BRYANT HICKS of Elanco
- NATALIE LAMARQUE of New York Life Insurance
- PHILLIP ROLLOCK of TIAA
- PRESTON HOPSON of Tetra Tech
- RASHIDA LA LANDE of Kraft Heinz
- REGINA BYNOTE JONES of Baker Hughes
- RICK SINKFIELD of Laureate Education
- SAVALLE SIMS of Discovery
- SHARON BARNER of Cummins
- STEPHANIE TILLMAN of Flowers Foods
- SYLVIA STEIN of Modine Manufacturing
- TERESA WYNN ROSEBOROUGH of Home Depot
- THOM JACKSON of Schneider
- TONIT CALAWAY of BorgWarner
- TONY WEST of Uber
- TRACY PRESTON of Neiman Marcus Group
- VANESSA ALLEN SUTHERLAND of Norfolk Southern
- WANJI WALCOTT of Discover Financial Services
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