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MCCA® 2005 Survey of Fortune 500 Minority General Counsel

Profiles

Michele Coleman Mayes, Pitney Bowes Inc.
Senior Vice President & General Counsel

J. Alberto Gonzalez-Pita, Tyson Foods, Inc.
Executive Vice President & General Counsel

Larry D. Thompson, PepsiCo Inc.
Senior Vice President Government Affairs, General Counsel & Secretary

Lawrence P. Tu, Dell Inc.
Senior Vice President & General Counsel


As minority communities continue to play a vital role in the nation’s economy, America’s top companies increasingly understand the desirability of not excluding minorities from the groups to whom they market their goods and services. In 2004, advertisers spent $3.09 billion to market their products to U.S. Hispanics alone—an increase of 11 percent from 2003.1 Additionally, African American buying power is predicted to rise from $723 billion in 2004 to $965 billion in 2009; Hispanic from $686 billion to $992 billion; and Asian American from $363 billion to $528 billion, according to the National Organization for Diversity in Sales and Marketing.2

However, the real measure of success isn’t the amount of advertising dollars focused on a community or what a group can afford to buy. It’s in the corner office. For all the billions spent to entice Hispanics to buy consumer goods, how many Hispanics are working at the top corporate levels? Does the growth in African American buying power reflect a similar trajectory for African Americans leading the nation’s top law departments?

This year’s “MCCA® Annual Report on General Counsel of Color Leading Fortune 500 Companies,” reveals promising breakthroughs that predict that as buying power grows, so will the number of minority attorneys leading the biggest corporations. The report takes a look at demographic changes and trends, which include a rise of Hispanic general counsel in the Fortune 500, as well as increasing numbers of Asian Americans, and women of color in the Fortune 1000. Patterns among businesses that have minority chief legal officers are examined, and profiles are presented of four outstanding Fortune 500 general counsel: Michele Coleman Mayes of Pitney Bowes Inc., J. Alberto Gonzalez-Pita of Tyson Foods, Inc., Larry D. Thompson of PepsiCo, and Lawrence P. Tu of Dell Inc.

Demographics: Fortune 500, Fortune 501-1000

As of April 2005, 28 (5.6 percent) Fortune 500 corporate legal departments were led by general counsel of color, an increase from 26 (5.2 percent) reported in the 2004.3

Hispanic representation among these leaders showed the most significant growth of all, nearly doubling from three to five within the course of one year,4 despite the recent retirement of longstanding Abbott Laboratories General Counsel José de Lasa. Additions include J. Alberto Gonzalez-Pita of Tyson Foods, Inc. and Carlos Hernandez of the International Steel Group.

The number of general counsel of Asian/Pacific Islander5 heritage grew by one to three. Last year, Lawrence P. Tu, the newcomer to the group, received an ‘honorable mention’ in MCCA’s report for his role as general counsel of NBC, a subsidiary of Fortune 500’s General Electric. Earlier this year, Dell Inc. appointed Tu as its general counsel, a move that brings him to the management forefront of a company with rapidly expanding global operations ranked 28th on the Fortune 500 list.

This year also marks the first year since MCCA began its annual general counsel report that the Fortune 500 features a Native American general counsel. Charles Tanabe, general counsel of Liberty Media since 1999, led his company from 609th place in 2004 to 254th place on the Fortune 500 list in 2005.

While the African American general counsel group experienced considerable turnover, the population numbers remained identical. African Americans account for 19 (3.8 percent) of Fortune 500 general counsel. This number reflects the departures of Wayne Budd (formerly of John Hancock Financial Services), who returned to private practice, Deval Patrick (formerly of Coca-Cola Company), who resigned effective December 31, 2004, and David Andrews (formerly of PepsiCo), who retired February 2005. New to the group are Praxair’s general counsel, James Breedlove, and David Andrews’ successor at PepsiCo, Larry D. Thompson. The latter marks the first time that a Fortune 500 company has appointed successive general counsel of color.

This year also marks the first year since MCCA began its annual general counsel report that the Fortune 500 features a Native American general counsel. Charles Tanabe, general counsel of Liberty Media since 1999, led his company from 609th place in 2004 to 254th place on the Fortune 500 list in 2005.

Demographics of minority women holding the position on general counsel remained the same: one Hispanic and four African American women. Indeed, the five women from last year’s report—Paula Boggs of Starbucks Coffee Company, Michele Coleman Mayes of Pitney Bowes Inc., Gloria Santona of McDonald’s Corporation, Kellye Walker of BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc., and Andrea Zopp of Sears, Roebuck & Co.—continue to head their Fortune 500 legal departments.

Last year, MCCA expanded its research to include Fortune 501 through 1000 companies in its annual general counsel survey, a move to recognize these outstanding leaders of color and also to allow a snapshot of the next tier of America’s largest companies. In this year’s report, 18 companies among this batch of corporate giants boasted general counsel of color, as compared to last year’s 17. Of the 18, 9 are African American, 5 are Asian/Pacific Islander, and 4 are Hispanic.

Companies seeking a competitive edge have embraced the business imperative for inclusiveness and are leading the corporate pack in diversifying their leadership ranks.

Women of color now account for eight, or 1.6 percent, of minority general counsel within Fortune 501 through 1000 companies—an increase of two since last year’s survey.

MCCA® List of Minority General Counsel at Fortune 500 Companies

One must also note those companies that either shifted off the Fortune 1000 list this year, or sit at the brink of this elite group of corporations, that are also led by minority general counsel. For example, both Handleman and Andersons are headed by an African American female and Asian male general counsel, respectively.

Analysis

The significant breakthroughs in the second and third tiers of leading general counsel of color bode well for Fortune 500 companies, whose revenues stand to grow even further as ever-more diverse talent primes the corporate legal pipeline. Asian American men and minority women seem particularly well poised for leadership in top companies, as they surged forward faster than any other diverse group working within the Fortune 501 through 1000.

The demographic changes exhibited by minority groups between 2004 and 2005 further evidence the presence of a talent pipeline beginning at the juris doctorate level. For example, Hispanic attorneys showed slow but steady growth in large law firms: Their employment in these firms increased by 163 percent, which exceeded the growth in their rate of juris doctorates conferred (148 percent), as well as their growth in the workforce (72 percent).6 The news, then, is cautiously optimistic. External factors, such as recent attacks on affirmative action programs and bottlenecks at the hiring level, continue to plague minorities’ advancement in the profession. Still, their growth at the Fortune 1000 general counsel level demonstrates that while rates of employment and promotion may lag behind, diverse talent is pressing inexorably through the pipeline.

MCCA® List of Minority General Counsel at Fortune 500 Companies: By Race/Ethnicity, Gender & Industry

MCCA® List of Minority General Counsel at Fortune 501-1000 Companies and Breakdown by Race/Ethnicity and Gender

Beyond the numbers, this year’s general counsel survey also reveals trends about the type of businesses where women and minority general counsel appear to thrive. Consider that:

  • 89.6 percent of the Fortune 500 corporations led by general counsel of color are consumer-driven; and
  • all but three of these 28 corporations have major global business—indeed, 15 rank among Fortune’s Global 500 companies.

It is hardly coincidental that the overwhelming majority of general counsel of color in the Fortune 500 lead companies competing in consumer-driven industries. The U.S. Census predicts that within the next several decades in this country, the population of people of color currently called “minorities” will overtake non-Hispanic whites, and that Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing of all ethnic groups today.7 Each year, then, minorities will constitute a greater share of current and potential consumers, and by 2056 or sooner, non-Hispanic whites will no longer be the racial “majority” in America.

Retail, health, pharmaceuticals, computers and electronics, telecommunications, food production and services, gas and utilities—each of these industries relies heavily on, interacts directly with, and is built upon the business of a diverse consumer base. The need to effectively generate business among minority communities, to relate to and understand all consumers, and to produce products for diverse consumers, has created a serious need for diverse leadership.

In addition to outstanding legal talent, general counsel of color add value to corporate boards, management teams, and shareholder relations. Companies seeking a competitive edge have embraced the business imperative for inclusiveness and are leading the corporate pack in diversifying their leadership ranks.

Globalization has expanded the need for diversity as a matter of competitive business, further growing the diversity of the consumer base and the subsequent need for diverse leadership. It is no coincidence, therefore, that approximately 90 percent of the companies led by general counsel of color have major international operations and, further, that over 50 percent of these companies are among the top 400 global corporations in the world. The rise in Hispanic and Asian American general counsel, particularly those with global experience and multiple language skills, seems, too, to correspond with three simultaneous factors: 1) demographic shifts within the U.S. population, 2) the increasing numbers of juris doctorate degrees earned by Asian Americans and Hispanics, and 3) a concurrent rise of global operations throughout the Americas and Asia.

Perhaps equally important as diversity of race and ethnicity is the vast experience that general counsel of color bring to the table—a finding best exhibited by this year’s profilees. From government superstars to international leaders, these general counsel represent the broad spectrum of talent and experience required of top legal officers in the Fortune 500 today.

Deval Patrick: Still Making a Difference
 

Deval PatrickDeval Patrick, who recently stepped down as general counsel for the Coca-Cola Company, is running for governor of Massachusetts.

His rise from public assistance as a child in Chicago to Harvard, his success in combating discrimination as head of the civil rights division of the Justice Department, and his achievements in helping to create more diverse work environments as general counsel at Texaco and Coca-Cola have positioned him as a leader who strives to ensure fairness, equality, and diversity.

“Diversity is a matter of good common sense,” Patrick says. “The advantage of American business is that the diversity of our population is unique in the world.”

Commenting on his three-year experience with Coca-Cola, he says, “Coca-Cola does business in more countries than there are members in the United Nations. Their success…is a case study in why diversity is important from a business perspective.”

Patrick ended his stint with Coca-Cola in 2004 to end his commute from Boston to Atlanta. Right now, he’s excited about his decision to run for governor and has spent his time gearing up for the task. More importantly, he is glad to be closer to his family.

Wayne Budd Returns to Goodwin Proctor
 

Wayne Budd Former John Hancock general counsel Wayne Budd has returned to Goodwin Procter, the Boston law firm where he became partner after serving as associate attorney general during the first Bush administration in the early ’90s.

The transition from an in-house legal department to a private law firm, sometimes notoriously difficult, has gone smoothly for Budd—a result, he says, of his familiarity with how large law firms operate and his previously existing relationships with his Goodwin colleagues.

Known for his legendary commitment to his constituencies, as well as his ability to forge consensus with vision and enthusiasm, Budd is focusing his efforts at Goodwin on business development, innovation, and diversity, with a particular focus on the latter two. He finds his work with Goodwin’s “incubator” program-a place where new practice ideas are hatched-particularly rewarding. “It’s challenging and forward-looking,” he says. “And, it’s essential.”

Budd is also continuing his long-standing work promoting diversity. His efforts have won him many awards and accolades—from MCCA® and other organizations—and he has continued this work at Goodwin by serving on the firm’s diversity committee. “We think it’s a value-added,” he says concerning Goodwin’s efforts to further promote diversity. “We think it allows us to offer a better product.”

José M. de Lasa: A Lifetime of Leadership
 

José M. de Lasa retired as executive vice president and general counsel of Abbott Laboratories last March. MCCA® thanks de Lasa for his relentless efforts to ensure inclusiveness in the legal community and for his continuous support of the association.

De Lasa, 63, joined Abbott in 1994 as senior vice president, secretary and general counsel. Prior to that, he was vice president, secretary and associate general counsel for Bristol Myers-Squibb Co. Before joining Bristol-Myers in 1976, he was with the law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York.

“We thank José for a decade of outstanding service to Abbott,” said Miles D. White, chairman and chief executive officer, Abbott. “Not only did he make significant contributions to the company, José was also a pioneer in community service. Among his achievements, he established a successful pro bono network of attorneys to help immigrants attain citizenship.”

De Lasa earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Yale University, and a law degree from Yale Law School. He was born in Cuba.

MCCA® 2005 FORTUNE 1–1000Survey Results

The findings from the MCCA® 2005 Fortune 500 General Counsel Survey are:

  • In 2005, 28 or 5.6% of the Fortune 500 general counsel are minorities-an increase from 26 or 5.2% from 2004.
  • Among the 2005 group of minority general counsel:
    19 (3.8%) are African American; no change from 2004,
    5 (1%) are Hispanic; an increase of 3 from 2004,
    3 (0.6%) are Asian/Pacific Islander; an increase of 1 from 2004,
    1 (0.2%) is Native American; an increase of 1 from 2004, and
    5 (0.5%) of the minority general counsel are women; the same as 2004.
  • There are 75 (15%) women general counsel in the 2005 Fortune 500 and of this group, all but 5 are white women.

The findings from the MCCA 2005 Fortune 501-1000 General Counsel Survey are:

  • In 2005, 18 or 3.6% of the Fortune 501-1000 general counsel are minorities, which is about the same as in 2004.
  • Among the 2005 group of minority general counsel in the Fortune 501-1000: 9 (1.8%) are African American, 5 (1%) are Asian/Pacific Islander, 4 (0.8%) are Hispanic, and 8 (1.6%) of the minority general counsel are women.
  • There are 63 (12.6%) women general counsel in the 2005 Fortune 501-1000, all but 8 are white women.

The findings from the 2005 MCCA Fortune 1000 General Counsel Survey are:

  • In 2005, 46 or 4.6% of the Fortune 1000 GC are minorities; an increase of 4 from the 42 in 2004.
  • Among the 2005 group of minority general counsel: 28 (2.8%) are African American; a decrease by 3 from 2004, 9 (1.8%) are Hispanic; an increase of 5 from 2004, 8 (0.8%) are Asian/Pacific Islander; an increase of 3 from 2004, 1 (0.1%) is Native American, and 13 (1.3%) of the minority general counsel are women.
  • There are 138 (13.8%) women general counsel in the Fortune 1000, of which all but 13 are white women.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the minimum categories for race are now: American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Black or African American; Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; White; and Hispanic or Latino.

NOTES

  1. See "Hispanic Advertising Rises 11 Percent to $3.09 Billion," Hispanic PR Wire (December 2004), at http://www.hispanicprwire.com/print_in.php?id=3444&cha=14".
  2. See The National Organization for Diversity in Sales and Marketing, at http://www.minoritymarketshare.com/?id=facts.
  3. See "MCCA Annual Report on General Counsel of Color Leading Fortune 500 Companies," Diversity & the Bar®® (May/June 2004).
  4. Frank Fernandez has been general counsel of Home Depot since 2001, but this is the first year his office released this information to MCCA.
  5. Throughout the article, the term "Asian" is used to refer to persons of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander heritage. Jackie Mahi Erickson, general counsel of Hawaiian Electric Industries, is the only self-identified Pacific Islander among Fortune 1000 general counsel.
  6. See "Diversity in Law Firms," U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2003), p. 10, at www.eeoc.gov/stats/reports/diversitylaw/index.html. Various data sources were analyzed, including the Current Population Survey from the Census Bureau, EEO-1 reports that private-sector employers with 100 or more employees are required to file, and data on law degrees.
  7. See Jennifer Cheeseman Day, "National Population Projections," U.S. Census Bureau, at http://www.census.gov/population/www/pop-profile/natproj.html.
  8. See PepsiCo's "2004 Annual Report: Sustainable Advantage" (March 2005), at http://www.pepsico.com/investors/annual-reports/2004/247528PepsicoLR.pdf.

From the May/June 2005 issue of Diversity & The Bar®

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