William P. Barr
Verizon Communications’ legal department has successfully created a more inclusive work environment where individuals are valued. Currently, 12 percent of the department’s attorneys are minorities and 33 percent are female. Additionally, all 11 employees hired over the last two years have been women and minorities.
Exceptional leadership, innovative initiatives, and dedicated people have been the key to the legal department’s success. General Counsel William P. Barr, who believes that commitment to diversity starts at the top, heads the team.
The department’s diversity strategy focuses on eight action areas: leadership, communications, education, employment, workplace environment, strategic partnerships and alliances, economic development, measurement and accountability.
Communication is particularly important because it ensures that everyone is aware of what is expected, and builds understanding and buy-in to the Verizon legal diversity strategy. Barr and other legal department senior executives use a combination of face-to-face and electronic communications to provide ongoing information and help build awareness of diversity issues. In addition, diversity is an ongoing agenda item at the department’s quarterly meetings.
Its legal department also established the Legal & Security Diversity Council, a department-wide council to serve as a resource on diversity issues, including mentoring, training and leadership development.
Verizon believes that with leadership comes accountability at every level of management. All managers in the legal department are required to adhere to Verizon’s Diversity Vision and Values. Additionally, managers are evaluated on how well they perform on diversity initiatives.
Verizon has created a successful platform for others to adopt.
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From the December 2002 issue of Diversity & The Bar®