I’m a proud alumnus of Marquette University and during my time there, I was enrolled in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) that motivates and mentors first generation college students. Although I was studying Engineering at the time, EOP’s director, Dr. Arnold Mitchem, changed my life by inspiring me to pursue a career in policy – and the rest is history.
There is no excuse
The numbers tell the story here. 2020 American Bar Association research shows that 37% of US lawyers are female, 5% are Black, 5% are Hispanic and 2% are Asian. We have a lot of work to do to increase diverse representation in the law. There’s no excuse. We must break down barriers and lay an open pathway that attracts, welcomes and cultivates diverse talent.
The lack of intentionality compounded with ineffective processes are the biggest barriers that I see. Clients haven’t historically demanded diverse talent. Recruiting firms, driven by client requests, go to the same networks that don’t necessarily include diverse talent pools.
However, the tide is turning, due to the demand for diversity from many organizations, especially after the 2020 racial equity movement.
Diversity, equity and inclusion have to be part of a company’s core values. At HP, we believe in the power of diversity to drive innovation. This means diversity in thought, background and experience, as well as the traditional dimensions of diversity. This has led us to assemble one of the most diverse board of directors in tech. We even went as far as testifying in front of the California State Senate to support legislation that would require diversity in corporate boards. We also have a very diverse executive leadership team, with 53% total minorities and 30% women. Together, they make up the backbone of our DE&I infrastructure that propels us to make meaningful progress over time.
A tangible example is how our leaders have rallied behind our ambition to become the world’s most sustainable and just technology company. As part of that, we set some of the most ambitious DE&I goals in the tech industry – such as to achieve 50/50 gender equality in leadership by 2030 and meet or exceed labor market representation for racial ethnic minorities in the US– and launched an inaugural Racial Equality and Social Justice Task Force.
Working towards a better future
Diverse leadership matters. It creates a domino effect, where everyone becomes more intentional at hiring and retaining talent. It also fosters a mindset of change to eliminate processes and policies that have historically held underrepresented groups back. In other words, we must affirmatively adopt processes that reduce unconscious bias and create a more inclusive and welcoming environment. It’s a journey, not a destination.
Last year in my legal organization, we started requiring 50% of our candidates to be diverse. One of the ways we make that happen is by partnering with organizations like the Black General Counsel 2025 Initiative (BGC) and the National Bar Association. Ultimately, we want to be certified by Diversity Lab under the Mansfield Rule. When candidates are interviewing, we intentionally put together a diverse panel to get a well-rounded perspective.
Internally, we remain committed to creating a sense of belonging for all of our employees. This requires paying attention to a host of small and large practices to retain the talent we want and need.
Externally, the legal department has a ‘holdback’ program, which has been in place since 2017, and it requires our US-based law firm partners to maintain minimally diverse staffing on HP matters. The compliance rate doubled from 46% at launch to nearly 100% today.
While we’re proud of our progress, we are constantly evaluating opportunities to push the envelope.
Where we all belong
My vision is to build a workplace that has a strong sense of belonging and inclusion so we can help our business reach its full potential. This means DE&I must be a business imperative, not a ‘nice-to-do’. It will require all of us to step up, become change agents and question the language we use, the assumptions we carry and the seemingly benign processes we use that may actually work against our goals.
Finally, in our efforts to find the best talent, we must refrain from only looking at a portion of the total talent pool. We believe, as shown by many studies, that diversity improves business outcomes. It’s not a zero-sum game. When we champion diversity, we all succeed in the long run.