Black General Counsel 2025 Initiative Aims to Increase Racial Diversity in Chief Legal Officer Positions

Date: January 08, 2020

Publication: Black General Counsel 2025 Initiative

Thompson Hine is proud to support The Black General Counsel 2025 Initiative.

CLEVELAND – January 8, 2020 – The Black General Counsel 2025 Initiative (2025 Initiative) is pleased to announce the launch of its website, www.BlackGC2025.com. The site is a tool designed to assist the 2025 Initiative in identifying all African American General Counsel (GC) currently serving in Fortune 1000 and large private companies as part of its mission to help prepare Black lawyers to become GCs of large companies and to ultimately bring lawyers who are “ready now” to the attention of executive recruiters and prominent GCs who can help them reach the GC seat or find other new opportunities.

2025 Initiative founders April Miller Boise, newly announced EVP, General Counsel of Eaton, former GC of Meritor, Inc., and Ernest Tuckett, former GC Americas of AkzoNobel, assembled an advisory council comprising Black GCs and chief legal officers of large companies and other legal industry leaders with the goal of increasing the number of Black GCs and chief legal officers in public and large private companies. Its initial focus was to help increase the number of Black GCs in Fortune 1000 companies from about 50 today to 100 (100% increase) for a total of 10%, by 2025. “Our main priority is to empower current and future senior Black lawyers with the tools, knowledge, exposure and support they need to reach large company GC seats. Inlaunching our website, we have added a resource available to this community of exceptional lawyers that will enhance our ability to reach our goal of 100 GCs in Fortune 1000 and equivalent companies. Reaching this goal would be an incredible leap forward. The influence in the C suite, the aggregate legal spend and the number of hiring decisions under the leadership of these Black GCs can be a game changer for the cause of diversity in the legal profession,” said Tuckett.

The 2025 Initiative is attempting to address the commonly stated dilemma “We can’t find qualified diverse talent” that some executive search professionals, CEOs and CHROs cite as the reason diversity lags so far behind in C-suite positions in large corporations. The 2025 Initiative has identified on its website more than 200 experienced GCs and other senior lawyers from a variety of industries, and the list will be updated regularly.

Identifying and tracking the number of Black GCs is only a small part of the 2025 Initiative’s activities and goals. Key to its effort is the identification of so-called “ready now” Black GC candidates. To be deemed ready now, a candidate must be nominated or sponsored by a current or former GC or a chief executive officer and submit his/her credentials for consideration through the “Apply” link on the website. Based on personal experience and discussions with other GCs, the advisory council has developed and clearly articulated a set of core criteria for successful GC candidates, which can be found on the new website. Aspiring GCs can measure themselves against these criteria to determine their readiness and any potential gaps. The criteria provide a roadmap aspiring GCs can use when creating career development plans with supervisors, mentors, coaches and sponsors. To develop the core criteria, the advisory council also sought input from executive recruiters at search firms including Major Lindsey & Africa, Korn Ferry, Spencer Stuart, Heidrick & Struggles and Barker Gilmore, who have placed hundreds of GCs in large corporations.

“One of the reasons the program has resonated with people is because we are working to cultivate substantive conversations and relationships among Black lawyers and to drive clear, very tangible goals to help move the needle in the C suite,” Boise said. “We are striving to help our cohort build relationships with each other and the community of Black GCs and search firms interested in this issue so that we can all drive the change we want to see in the profession.”

The 2025 Initiative is supported by several law firms that appreciate the importance of this issue and the work still to be done. Thompson Hine LLP provided financial and professional support to develop and launch the website. Alston & Bird, Beveridge & Diamond, and Cooley have also provided invaluable in-kind support and assistance.

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About the Black General Counsel 2025 Initiative. The Black General Counsel 2025 Initiative was founded in 2017 by Ernest Tuckett and April Miller Boise. Its goal is to increase the number of Black General Counsel (GC) by identifying all current and former Black GCs in the Fortune 1000 and large private companies; setting forth ideal core criteria necessary to be a successful GC; using the criteria to identify “ready now” Black GC candidates; connecting Black GCs and ready now candidates to professionals at executive search firms that recruit GCs and to new GC opportunities, whether through executive search firms or direct contact with corporations; and connecting ready now candidates and new Black GCs to each other and to mentors and advisors who can help with search and transition. For more information, please visit www.BlackGC2025.com.

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