The DuPont Story - Embedding Diversity

Tuesday, March 1, 2005 - 01:00

Al Driver, Editor
The Metropolitan Corporate
Counsel

How many companies and legal departments have a clear vision of the future
and pursue it tirelessly? It would not be entirely accurate to claim that
corporate counsel have been responsible for corporate America's pursuit of
diversity. However, one of the most important skill sets of corporate counsel is
recognizing social and demographic changes that may affect the corporate client
and suggesting appropriate responses. There are certain realities facing
corporations. One is that in the U.S., today's minority will inevitably become
tomorrow's majority. The other is that as U.S. corporations expand abroad
diversity is an ever present reality. It takes awhile for these realities to
sink in. DuPont and its lawyers were among the first to recognize the importance
of accommodating to these changes, both on the business and legal department
levels.

More than a decade ago, DuPont made two critical decisions. It decided that
its in-house lawyers needed to use the talents of outside counsel to best serve
DuPont and that to do this they needed to create a true partnering relationship
with their outside counsel. The second was that in order to get the best legal
advice and to be consistently successful in courtrooms and around the
negotiating table, the company needed to be represented by a diverse team of
lawyers, both inside and outside.

It is fine to make decisions in the name of idealism, it is quite another to
be able to demonstrate that those decisions were the right ones - particularly
when substantial assets have been committed to implement those decisions. What
is noteworthy about Julie Mazza's interview on the front cover of this month's
Special Report on Diversity (page 35) is that DuPont's law firm and legal
service provider partners have enthusiastically bought into diversity. It has
become embedded in their cultures. Because we feel that Julie's message is so
important, we have encouraged DuPont's primary law firms and service providers
to use The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel to illustrate how they have
made diversity an integral part of their cultures and why this enhances their
ability to provide even better quality legal services to their clients. Look for
further coverage of the diversity successes of these (and other organizations)
in Part III of our Special Report on Diversity in our April issue.