DuPont's Women Lawyers Network
DuPont is a leading global company with an outstanding commitment to diversity. Recently Chambers Managing Editor Catherine McGregor spoke to Laura Beth Taylor, chair of the DuPont Women Lawyers' Network about this initiative.
At DuPont diversity has always been a key issue. The worldwide chemicals company has a global curriculum of training, which is designed to increase awareness and sensitivities to diversity differences amongst its teams.
It also has a global mentoring program, which is designed to retain and promote diverse candidates within the company.
Since 1973 DuPont has implemented a Supplier Diversity program, which promotes use of minority and women owned businesses. In the legal department this has extended to measuring diverse staffing from outside law firms.
DuPont Women Lawyers' Network is an initiative which brings together female lawyers at DuPont and also at the company’s primary law firm networks.
The initiative was started over 10 years ago by corporate counsel at DuPont, Lisa Passante; while initially small, the group has now expanded to about 1000 members.
Much of the focus of the group is providing networking and educational opportunities to its members. The annual conference, which is held at DuPont’s headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, attracts in excess of 200 delegates both from in-house at DuPont and from external law firms.
This larger gathering is complemented by smaller conferences around the USA which attract about 50 participants and are focused on areas such as leadership opportunities, sponsorship for advancement and professional development, glass ceiling, work-life balance and communication.
The DuPont Women Lawyers’ Network also works on initiatives with outside law firms to provide CLE-accredited training for its members. Recent examples include: Attorney-Client Privilege with Lisa Bromberg of Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C. and Recent Developments in Federal Court Litigation by Phillips Lytle, P.C. and Stites & Harbison, PLLC. The CLE programmes are focused on getting two law firms to collaborate on the presentation and have at least one woman and one junior female associate involved in the presentations.
Increasingly, Laura Beth Taylor told me that the DuPont Women Lawyers' Network is seeking to align further with DuPont’s Minority Counsel Network. She said, "The Minority Counsel Network offers networking opportunities and programs for minority counsel in DuPont and our primary law firms and service providers. We have recently started a campaign to get a more firm commitment from law firms in our network to focus on diversity and improve the statistics on minority lawyer leadership in the practice of law."