Different strokes

Rachel Gonzalez, general counsel, Starbucks

Starbucks has a fundamental business tenet that we are creating a welcoming place for all people, and that means inclusion and diversity is critical to our success. We provide inclusion training and tools to managers to ensure we are preparing all leaders to foster a diverse culture based on merit.
In 2015, we set a goal to increase the female and minority representation of our senior leadership (approximately 50-60 senior vice presidents and upwards) by 50%. We achieved that goal for women in 2018 and, by the end of 2020, aspire to have 50% women at the senior leadership level and achieve our goal of increasing minority representation by 50% over our 2015 number.

For two years in a row, we have achieved pay equity for men and women and all races performing similar work in the US. We also have verified gender equity in pay in China and in Canada.

We have focused on youth as well – we partner with community-based youth organisations and educational institutions to advance the cause of 16-to-24-year olds who are not in school or working. We are engaged in our communities in a number of ways. In March, Starbucks hosted a town hall during the National Organisation of Black Law Enforcement Executives’ (NOBLE) CEO Symposium in Houston. The town hall was designed to explore bias in public accommodation with law enforcement organisations and discuss the proper use of emergency services to mitigate discrimination.

We have a law and corporate affairs diversity and inclusion committee, which has the goal of fostering inclusion and diversity in the legal profession, and seeks to influence our partners – for example, external counsel – and other professionals to inspire, attract and retain diverse talent within the legal community.

We are focused on a few different sets of activities. We support organisations that promote inclusion and diversity in the legal profession. We conduct an annual survey of our top 25 external law firms with whom we have the greatest legal spend and, based on the results, do an annual recognition and award for the external law firm that has demonstrated the most commitment to inclusion and diversity within the legal community.

We undertake a series of pipeline programmes developing diverse professionals. One of these is the Gregoire Fellowship, which guarantees students summer fellowships at local law firms and in-house legal departments, a mentoring relationship with former Governor Christine Gregoire [also the former Attorney General of Washington], and help studying for the Bar exam. Fellows also receive University of Washington scholarships to help defray tuition cost. Starbucks is a founding partner of this programme, which began in 2015 and, additionally, each summer supports an incoming [first-year law student] at UW Law for a five-week paid internship at Starbucks. We also have a mentorship programme matching a Starbucks attorney with a diverse attorney in their first five years of practice. We recruit for open attorney positions through affinity Bar associations, diversity fellowship programmes, such as the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), and our own diverse networks.

“There is no such thing as the silver bullet solution so our approach is to learn what we can and share our learnings with others.” Rachel Gonzalez, Starbucks

We support the involvement of our legal and corporate affairs partners in affinity Bar organisations, and participate in both in-house and outside counsel fellowship programmes, such as the LCLD Fellows Programme, which offers development opportunities that include networking, mentoring and leadership training.

We feel like our legal department is part of the social and business fabric of Starbucks and I think legal departments have an excellent opportunity to lead in this space. The legal profession deserves – and requires – some additional thought and investment, not only by internal law departments, but also by external law firms, the government and many other sources.

One of the interesting things about our department is that we have expanded our efforts beyond the legal profession. Our department also consists of corporate affairs, which includes legal operations, global security, ethics and compliance, and global privacy.

Starbucks is transparent about its efforts and our statistics. Our website shows a wealth of statistics on the diversity of our partners and we also seek that information within the legal team.

We recently published a civil rights assessment report that was conducted by Covington & Burling under the leadership of former Attorney General Eric Holder, who helped us learn about our own practices and how we could further advance our commitment.

So, within the legal profession, we are embracing the notion that when we select outside counsel, we look at inclusion, equity and accessibility. We look at quantitative and qualitative measures. We will look at numbers – attorneys, paralegals, who is an equity partner, who’s an income partner, and so on. We will look at data that pertains not only to women and racial minorities, but veteran status, people who are openly LGBTQ and people with disabilities.

But the qualitative aspects are also important, even if it does not turn up within the law firm’s own internal statistics. So what are the programmes, development initiatives, training, resources made available to attract, retain and promote diverse talent within that law firm? Is that law firm doing something above and beyond to build the pipeline of diverse talent within law schools? We will ask very broad questions about how our firms are strengthening their bench and talent pool within the legal community more generally, to get under the surface and analyse beyond what the numbers say.

What matters to us is whether the firm can demonstrate results, for example, improved recruitment and retention of women and minorities, promotions to partnership and expansion of diversity and inclusion (D&I) programmes. We request that firms staff our matters with a diverse panel of lawyers, that a lawyer from a diverse background serves as the lead or relationship lawyer assigned to the matter and that diverse lawyers receive origination or other credit.

There is always going to be more to be done in the future. We are re-evaluating and stepping back to look at some of our current formulas. For a number of years, we had been utilising a unique law firm survey, but we are pivoting back to the [American Bar Association’s] model diversity survey because of the importance of continuity of data and information across the legal profession.

We have signed a GC pledge committing to ABA Resolution 113, about promoting diversity in the legal profession. We also try to get into this issue through our legal operations team and we have partners who are actively involved in CLOC [Corporate Legal Operations Consortium], which is focused on optimising and creating industry standards for the legal ecosystem – and that includes diversity and inclusion best practices. We are collaborating within CLOC to develop a diversity and inclusion framework.

There is no such thing as the silver bullet solution – this is a very complex and longstanding issue, so our general approach is to learn what we can and then share our learnings with others. We try to open source as much information as we can; for example when we undertook unconscious bias training, we made that training public because we wanted others to benefit from the investment and think about how it might benefit the retail community, or society, more generally.

Norma Barnes-Euresti, chief legal counsel for labour, employment, ethics and compliance, Kellogg Company

At Kellogg Company, I serve on the executive diversity and inclusion council, the global legal and compliance department’s leadership team and also lead the global ethics and compliance function. I serve as the head of the people team within the legal and compliance function, advising on global D&I issues, and am also the former executive sponsor of K Pride and Allies – Kellogg’s business/employee resource group (B/ERG) dedicated to LGBTQIA employees and their allies.

In the wider profession, I collaborate with external law firms that are passionate about diversity and inclusion. I serve on the board for the LGBT Bar Association and board of trustees for the National Judicial College, which educates the judiciary on topics including diversity and inclusion.

At Kellogg, we know people are our competitive advantage and we must nurture an inclusive environment in which all our people are empowered to bring their whole selves to work and achieve their potential. Our focus on diversity enables us to build a culture where all employees are inspired to share their talents and ideas. They become part of a team that works to better serve the needs of our diverse consumers by delivering fresh thinking, product innovations and quality brands.

Our legal and compliance team helps advise the company on how to create a diverse environment, so it is essential that we are leaders and role models in supporting and growing diverse talent. It is a competency that demands time, attention and leadership. The team is a testament to our ability to lead, as we are incredibly diverse – our leadership team is roughly 60% male and 40% female, and 50% of the team is a racial minority. We are also inclusive of other dimensions of diversity, including LGBTQIA people and persons with disabilities.

We are very intentional about developing and supporting an environment that fosters inclusion and a sense of belonging. We want to be a high-performing team and that starts with trust. Trust is about confidence in your team members, assuming positive intent, and being open to being vulnerable and learning together. It makes a personal difference to be able to bring my whole self to work, so I strive to ensure others can do the same. We are very intentional about varying facets of diversity and factor this in as we aim to ensure everyone has the chance to be heard.

“We have learned training is not enough. We need to create an environment where employees can develop a true sense of belonging.” Norma Barnes-Euresti, Kellogg Company

We have a variety of company-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives. For example, our Kellogg executive diversity and inclusion council (EDIC) is chaired and led by our chairman and chief executive, Steve Cahillane. The council meets at least quarterly to review workforce data including representation, hiring, promotions and turnover data, by gender, race/ethnicity, people with disabilities and veterans. EDIC is comprised of all global function heads, ensuring that diversity considerations filter into each functional area.

We also have eight B/ERGs, three of which have global chapters. Each B/ERG is dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce within the context of our company’s mission, values and business objectives. The B/ERGs also work in innovative ways to share their valuable insights to positively and strategically achieve our business goals and objectives.

The company provides training around the topics of unconscious bias, gendered speak and micro-aggression to help ensure our leaders are aware of how their personal experiences can impact talent decisions.

At Kellogg, our legal team leads and influences the diversity and inclusion strategy, but is only one voice in this space. It all starts with us modelling inclusion in our department and advising on what has worked for us. One of the initiatives of which we are very proud is our collaboration with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Law Fellow programme. During this summer programme – in partnership with the NAACP – students travel to Kellogg headquarters for an immersion in Kellogg’s culture and legal practices, and for exposure and interaction with many of our executive leaders.

It is critical for outside legal service providers to be diverse. If I’m receiving advice on how to manage employment and diversity issues, I want to be assured that it’s effective advice and want to see providers demonstrate they believe in their counsel.

At Kellogg, accountability for diversity starts at the top. Annually, we provide an update for our board of directors that includes our workforce metrics, movement and qualitative efforts to drive improvement, and our board is actively engaged in our diversity agenda.

At the B/ERG level, success is measured through our global opinion survey, which is administered to all employees, as well as through key performance indicators such as community service contributions and business impact.

Within the legal department, we monitor our strategies – we have an expert in data analytics who measures our work within the company and our own department to determine success and impact.

We find value in benchmarking best practices among competitors, as well as companies with world-class D&I programmes. This helps us stay at the forefront of the diversity and inclusion conversation.

Throughout our journey, we have learned that providing training on diversity topics is not enough. We need to focus on creating an environment where employees feel included, can develop a true sense of belonging. We understand this can only be achieved by creating a culture of trust, driven by leaders.

John Schultz, chief legal and administrative office, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

There continues to be a heated battle for talent. The battle has been happening for a while, but continues to intensify as more leaders try to figure out what environment they can create that will attract the very best talent and allow it to thrive.

We have had a longstanding relationship with Street Law, which educates about law and government in schools and communities, because we recognise there is not enough diverse talent coming into the profession. We love the fact that Street Law is allowing us to connect with high-school students that are interested in the profession. The Silicon Valley Urban Debate League has a similar programme intended to get high-school students interested in the law through a debate-like forum and we continue to be active there too.

We have gone so far as to hire directly on campus; we are one of the few companies to do that and have done so for almost ten years. This allows us to engage with a set of talent that, candidly, most corporate legal departments just are not seeing.

Diversity and inclusion is no longer a buzz-phrase – you need to live it every day. If your work environment and culture do not enforce that, you won’t attract diverse people, those you do attract you won’t retain and, ultimately, you will be playing with the second or third-best talent. That’s not a recipe for success.

“We have hired directly on campus. This allows us to engage with a set of talent that, candidly, most corporate legal departments just are not seeing.” John Schultz,
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

We have a strong belief that if you do not have the right basic culture, no specific programme is going to move the needle. So there is a lot of focus on creating an overall culture – whether around work-life balance, the amenities in the workplace, parental leave and the like – that we think is consistent with having a diverse workforce.

The office of legal and administrative affairs has a very robust talent programme we call the ‘talent factory’, which is intended to bring talent in at the very early levels of the organisation and promote them through thereafter. What that means is every manager understanding where their employee stands, where they need to go next and how they’re going to get there.

It’s one thing to look at statistics, and they are important, but you need to look at each individual and their career path. I’m proud that seven of my 12 direct reports would be considered diverse by US standards. That’s the key aspect of any D&I programme – it’s those individual stories and that career progression.

We are in the midst of a rollout of our next inclusion programme iteration across my team, using an outside vendor who brings a rigorous approach to inclusion, including talking about how the brain works. We all recognise that diverse teams are more innovative and more successful. Therefore, acknowledging our own biases and understanding how to deal with them in a team environment is incredibly important.

Brian Tippens, our chief diversity and inclusion officer, is a lawyer by background and I convinced him to rotate into my organisation and run what I call the ‘OLAA (office of legal and administrative affairs) employee experience’, focused on culture, inclusion and diversity. His task is to look at the experience of our employees end-to-end and design initiatives to push that experience forward. I am excited to see Brian in the process of looking around and coming up with ideas and initiatives.

You never stop learning about yourself, never stop learning about your team and culture is always changing in some form, even though the core principles may stay the same. In the last couple of years, we have seen a shift in balance between inclusion and diversity, versus just talking about diversity, and we have seen the conversation move to one where many of the inclusion presentations I now see talk more about how we work as humans, how our brains function – so that we can work on strategies to be more inclusive.

We are all continuing on this journey and that’s what makes this such an exciting issue. The way it was sometimes talked about in the past was as if we were trying to solve a problem. I do not think this is solving a problem, this is inspiring your talent and building teams that continue to be high-performing. That is a never-ending opportunity.

We are also always looking to make an impact in the marketplace with the organisations we support, and we are very active with my own team in legal pro bono and community service, participating in the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, and organisations like the National Center for Women and Information Technology and National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. We are constantly looking for external feedback to make sure what we are doing falls into best practice. One of my personal favourites recently is the fact that we have worked with the Girl Scouts of the USA to create a cyber security badge, for young girls to get an interest at that early stage in a cyber security career. It is based on a videogame and other organisations are currently looking at it.

That community piece is also an inspiration inside the company for folks, whether in legal or not. I am proud to be at a company that has been at the forefront of these things since its founding. You do not feel like you are trying to push a rock uphill. More often than not, it feels like you are on the downhill side and just trying to pedal fast enough to keep up with the momentum.

Diversity and inclusion has been a part of our RFP process going back to before I took over running the legal organisation. Again, you are looking for that team dynamic. The days of hiring law firms is long past; certainly it is for us. What has happened is you’re not even just hiring a lawyer at this point, you are hiring a team. And if that team is not diverse, you are not going to end up with the outcomes you want.

Catherine Wycherley is features writer at GC