GC Ranks Are More Diverse Since 2013, Study Says


Law360 | February 25, 2021

The Law360 article, "GC Ranks Are More Diverse Since 2013, Study Says," quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Cynthia Dow and is based on our study, "Fortune 500 General Counsel Succession: Leveling the Playing Field to Create Equity​." The article is excerpted below.

A new study from management consultants Russell Reynolds Associates shows gender and ethnic diversity in the appointment of Fortune 500 general counsel has increased steadily since 2013.

The increase is a trend, the study says, which gained further momentum from the heightened focus on racial justice in 2020 following the police killing of George Floyd.

The study, released Wednesday, says that from 2013 to 2017, about 27% of new general counsel appointments were women. But the numbers rose between 2017 and 2020 to 42%, and in 2020 it was 45%.

The report also shows an increasing trend in ethnic diversity among newly appointed general counsel, with 12% of such appointments from 2013 to 2017 rising to 20% from 2017 to 2020, and again rising to 22% in 2020.

"Given the raised consciousness and urgency around racial and social justice, our DE&I [diversity, equity, and inclusion] conversations with clients are more frequent and substantive, with more clients proactively coming to us for advice," the report states.

Several Russell Reynolds employees worked on the study, headed by Cynthia Dow, who leads the group's legal, regulatory and compliance officers practice. The company has its headquarters in New York and offices around the world. Dow, who is based in Boston, has been with Russell Reynolds for 12 years. Previously she served as an assistant general counsel at Cadbury Schweppes and as general counsel at Optical Switch Corp.

"We were quite excited about some of the positive observations in terms of progress for women and the ethnically diverse general counsel," Dow told Law360 Pulse on Thursday. "Also we were surprised or disappointed that women and minorities are being held to a higher bar. That may be something that people felt but we didn't have the data to show that before."

"We think the key takeaway for corporate law departments, or CEOs and human resources chiefs, is to think about their talent pipeline and very consciously develop their people," Dow added.

Find the full article here.

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GC Ranks Are More Diverse Since 2013, Study Says