CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Inclusion Initiative, a collaborative program among law departments at major corporations across the country, announced today that member companies spent over $226 million in 2016 with minority- and women-owned (MWBE) law firms.
In the initial year of the Inclusion Initiative, members together spent $42 million with MWBE law firms. Since then, the total amount of money participating law departments have spent on MWBE firms has grown significantly and has exceeded $200 million every year since 2012, as illustrated in the chart.
Over the life of the program, the participating companies have generated over $1.24 billion in expenditures on minority and women owned law firms.
“The Inclusion Initiative is a significant success story in the movement to build and sustain diversity and inclusion in the legal profession,” said Rick Meade, Vice President and Chief Legal Officer for International Businesses at Prudential Financial, Inc. and Chairperson of the Inclusion Initiative. “The commitment made by the participating companies to support MWBE law firms has proven to be meaningful and sustained, enabling many of our target firms to thrive in an increasingly competitive market.”
In 2010, the law departments at 11 large corporations spanning various industries launched the Inclusion Initiative to help increase diversity in the legal profession. At the heart of the Initiative is the belief that MWBE firms play a vital role in providing opportunity to diverse attorneys, and excellent, cost effective legal services that meet the needs of corporate America. Inclusion Initiative members believe that MWBE firms provide a reliable pathway into the legal profession for law students and young lawyers of diverse backgrounds and an attractive career path for experienced diverse attorneys who seek an alternative to majority-owned law firms.
Participation in the Inclusion Initiative has nearly tripled to 32 members since its founding in 2010. The current roster of participating companies includes: 3M, Accenture, Allstate, American Airlines, AT&T, Bank of America, The Coca-Cola Company, Comcast, Exelon, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, General Mills, GlaxoSmithKline, Google, JPMorgan Chase, McDonald’s Corporation, Macy’s, Merck, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide, NBCUniversal, Prudential Financial, Sempra Energy, Shell Oil Company, State Farm, Target, Toyota Financial Services, UPS, Verizon, Walmart, Wells Fargo, and Xerox.
In 2016, the Inclusion Initiative welcomed State Farm to its ranks. “Through the Inclusion Initiative, we are proud to join with other leading companies from across the country in giving voice to these important principles and in helping to increase diversity in the legal profession,” said Steve McManus, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, State Farm.
And, in 2017, Target and Toyota Financial Services joined the group. “At Target, we believe that diversity and inclusion make teams better. We’re committed across every part of our business, including our legal team, to working with diverse partners and suppliers,” said Don Liu, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary, Target. “I’ve worked with the Inclusion Initiative for a number of years and have been impressed by their work in bringing organizations together around a shared commitment to increasing spending with minority-owned law firms. With Target as the newest member, we’re proud to reaffirm our commitment to building and working with diverse teams.”
“Diversity and Inclusion are crucial parts of Toyota Financial Services’ core values, embraced by every aspect of our business, including the legal team,” said Katherine Adkins, Toyota Financial Services Group Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary. “We’ve learned firsthand that engaging lawyers at minority and women-owned law firms not only furthers our goal of having a diverse supplier base, it also makes good business sense. Toyota Financial Services is committed to sending more high-level legal work to NAMWOLF firms, enhancing our relationships with these firms, and providing them with further exposure to the business needs of our company.”
The Inclusion Initiative is administered by the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law firms (NAMWOLF), which comprises 172 certified MWBE law firms in 42 states. “Corporate members of the Inclusion Initiative are a testament to the adage of putting thought into action, said William Delgado, Inclusion Initiative Task Force Co-Chair and Board Member of NAMWOLF. “The commitment exhibited by each company helps ensure the success of minority- and women-owned law firms and furthers the important mission of diversifying the legal profession. NAMWOLF is excited about its continued collaboration with the Inclusion Initiative for years to come.”