Sunoco, Inc.’s commitment to diversity is evident by its diversity numbers. During the past two years, 70 percent of its professional new hires were women, and 57 percent were minorities. In that same time period, promotions were 65 percent women and 24 percent to minorities. Sunoco’s legal department, which is led by General Counsel Michael Kuritzkes, also mirrors the company’s commitment. When there is an opening, the department works with executive search firms and taps the outside counsel network to ensure a diverse slate of candidates. The result? Of the department’s 22 attorneys, over one-third are women and 14 percent are people of color. Of the four attorneys who report to the general counsel, two are women, one of whom is also a person of color.
The law department’s diversity program also focuses on their outside counsel. By working with each firm and encouraging constructive dialogue about diversity, Sunoco is able to ensure that diversity remains a priority for each firm now and in the future. As a result, in the past two years, Sunoco has increased its spending with minority lawyers at outside firms by more than $1 million per year.
Last year, Sunoco, in partnership with several law firms in the Philadelphia area, founded the Philadelphia Law Diversity Group, an organization of law firms and corporate law departments who address the dearth of minority attorneys, particularly in the Philadelphia area. The group was started in 2001 in response to a report in the Legal Intelligencer that said law firm diversity exists only in brochures and the speeches of partners trying to appease clients. The group is committed to creating programs that increase the retention of attorneys of color-not just recruitment practices.
Currently, it is reviewing information resources such as MCCA’s research, the American Bar Association commission on opportunities for minorities in the profession, National Association for Law Placement, and others who are conducting research on retention at law firms.
The results of their work will be joint collaborative programs to increase the diversity of attorneys in the Philadelphia legal community. Since its inception last year, several area companies have joined the effort.
With Sunoco’s continued involvement and leadership, diversity will remain a priority for the Philadelphia legal community.
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From the December 2002 issue of Diversity & The Bar®