Fannie Mae’s general counsel, Ann Kappler, inherited a legal department with a strong commitment to diversity, and she worked to make that commitment even stronger.
As one of the first Fortune 500 corporations to name a minority, Franklin Raines, as chief executive officer, Fannie Mae is a prime example of how internal diversity goals impact a company’s bottom line.
The company’s commitment to diversity is reflected in its senior management, business practices, and vendors. The 91-attorney legal department has 50 women and 21 minorities.
Of the five attorneys who report to the general counsel, two are minorities and one is a woman. This department follows a formal diversity plan that includes: steps to be taken to increase its number of minorities and women; the accountabilities of each person responsible for implementing each initiative; and the metrics used to judge their progress. They also have a formal mentoring program to train mentors to facilitate career progression of all attorneys.
In working with outside legal firms, Fannie Mae tracks billable hours by ethnicity and gender of the attorneys assigned to their legal matters. Periodically, they review the performance of search firms in identifying a diverse slate of candidates for open positions.
Fannie Mae offers a diversity tool kit for other corporations to design and implement their diversity initiatives. Available on the website, it includes a step-by-step plan on diversity training programs, work-life options, confidential resources for employees, information on working with affinity groups, and other aspects of a comprehensive diversity program. The kit was designed for Fannie Mae, but can be adapted by any company seeking to increase its number of minorities and women.
Fannie Mae’s diverse legal team plays an important role in the company’s efforts to encourage homeownership by minorities. For example, Fannie Mae is part of an exciting homeownership initiative to create one million new African-American homeowners by 2005. Its partners include the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the National Urban League.
These programs and others represent the extent to which diversity has been incorporated into the way the company does business.
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From the December 2002 issue of Diversity & The Bar®