|Tracy L. Burnett||VH1|
|Carolyn Kimbrough-Davis||Cardinal Health Inc.|
|Wanda E. Flowers||Sunoco|
|Bobbie Gregg||Bank One|
|Renie Grohl||Fannie Mae|
|Jennifer Liu||Sony Computer Entertainment America Incorporated|
|Cecilia Lofters||General Electric|
|Samita Mehta||Conoco International Petroleum Company|
|Robbie E.B. Narcisse||Pitney Bowes Inc.|
|Susan Narimatsu||Sears Roebuck & Co.|
|Joiava Philpott||KMC Telecom|
|Paula Taylor Whitfield||Eli Lilly and Company|
|Rosalind Wiggins||Equifax Incorporated|
|Andrea Zopp||Sara Lee|
“There simply aren’t enough qualified women-of-color who are of senior-level caliber.” This oft-heard excuse is often muttered by those seeking to explain the dearth of women-of-color senior executives in corporate America. Yet, over the last 20 years, quite sizable numbers of women of color have amassed valuable skills and credentials, and they have been quietly moving up the ranks of their legal departments.
Their presence shatters the myth that “there aren’t any out there,” and upon hearing the topic for this story, minority and non-minority leaders were only too happy to supply recommendations of minority women who are rising corporate stars.
Yet, however much the opening statement may be a myth, the absence of corporate women in the most senior positions of their corporations is very real. A 2002 study released by Catalyst, a nonprofit organization that studies women in business, reveals that while women corporate officers in the Fortune 500 grew to nearly 16 percent in 2002 (versus 12.5 percent in 2000), only 1.6 percent of the same were African-American, Hispanic or Asian-American women (versus 1.3 percent in 2000). Women of color have faced similar limitations in law. In 2000, MCCA® reported that 8.6 percent of all Fortune 500 general counsel were women, and although that figure grew to 12.6 percent by 2002, women of color made up only 3 percent of this total or 4 percent overall.
By focusing on the women-of-color in law who have succeeded despite the odds, we hope to correct any lingering myths by encouraging more companies to cultivate the diverse talent within their staff, and inspire other upwardly-bound women to capture coveted senior positions. Presented here are profiles of 15outstanding attorneys who, through talent, perseverance, and hard work, achieved enviable levels of success and stand poised to assume greater responsibility as corporate leaders. MCCA tips its hat to these leading ladies and we expect that with their continued success, additional ceilings cannot help but be shattered.
Women on the Rise
This article generated a tremendous response from corporate leaders nation- wide. While we weren’t able to profile each of the women recommended to us, we would like to recognize these additional rising stars:
- Alecia DeCoudreaux, Secretary and Deputy General Counsel, Eli Lilly & Company.
- Jill Dessalines, Assistant General Counsel, McKesson Corporation
- Rita Hernandez, Associate General Counsel, Ernst and Young LLP.
- Sharon Leyhow, Associate General Counsel and Managing Director, DuPont Company
- Adrienne Logan, Assistant General Counsel, Avon Products, Inc..
- Kathryn K. Mlsna, Managing Counsel-Marketing and Intellectual Property Group, McDonald’s Corporation
- Rosemary Nelson, Vice President and Division General Counsel, Colgate-Palmolive
- Anna Richo, Associate General Counsel, Baxter International Healthcare
Alea J. Mitchell worked for MCCA® as a summer intern upon her graduation from Wesleyan. She is the features editor for Diversity & the Bar magazine.
From the March/April 2003 issue of Diversity & The Bar®