Archive for March 2009

• Article Profiles Marcus Jones

Marcus Jones, who first joined the firm through the Grand Rapids Bar Association/Floyd Skinner Bar Association clerkship program and who is today an associate in the firm’s Business and International Business Groups, was featured in an article in the Grand Rapids Press about the firm’s recent receipt of the 2009 Diversity Visionary Award.  You can read the article by clicking here.

• Sue Conway Profiled in Hometown Newspaper

Sue ConwayWarner Norcross & Judd’s Sue Conway was profiled in the Crescent News, the paper in her hometown of Bryan, Ohio. The profile is part of a series the paper is doing of successful women from Bryan, in connection with Women’s History Month. The article also provides some good insights into how far we have come as a firm relative to gender and inclusivity since Sue joined us 25 years ago.

You can find the article by clicking here.

• Grand Rapids Press Profiles Raquel Salas

Raquel SalasThe Grand Rapids Press published a wonderful profile of Raquel Salas in its paper Sunday. The article chronicles Raquel’s quest to be an attorney, from her childhood in the Dominican Republic where electricity and water were scarce to enrolling in law school in the States when she had not yet learned English. It provides a great overview of Raquel’s successes, as well as her involvement in the community and with her family. At Warner we strive to ensure that all our attorneys and staff can achieve work-life balance. This profile is a great case to that point – it is also a study in determination.

You can see the profile by clicking here.

• Video from the Diversity Visionary Awards Program

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce prepared the video below to show at the dinner where it presented the 2009 Diversity Visionary Award to Warner Norcross & Judd.

• Lunch-and-Learn: Marketing to America’s Diverse Population

GlobalHueOne the foundations of the business case for diversity is the rapidly changing demographics in the United States.  The United States Census Bureau estimates that by the year 2042, just 33 years from now, those groups that we now call minorities in the U.S. will constitute a majority of the population for the first time.  The change will happen even more quickly for the youngest generation of Americans.  By 2023, just 14 years from now, a majority of Americans 18 and under will be nonwhite. 

This demographic shift and the growth in the spending power of U.S. minorities has the attention of the business world.  Companies from Coca Cola to Walmart have stepped up their marketing and advertising to tap into the rapidly growing buying power of ethnic groups in the U.S.

On Monday, April 27, we will explore the demographic shift and how American businesses are responding to it with Robb Chavis and Sibyl Smith, of GlobalHue, Inc., one of the nation’s leading multicultural marketing firms.  They will be joining us for a Diversity Lunch-and-Learn luncheon for attorneys and staff.  Robb is Vice Chairman for Operations and Legal Counsel.  Sibyl is Vice Chairman for Human Resources and Legal.  Robb and Sibyl will provide us with a deeper understanding of the demographic shift and some insight into multicultural marketing and advertising. 

GlobalHue is the nation’s largest minority-owned, full-service marketing communications agency dedicated to multicultural consumers. Named “Best in Class” by Adweek Magazine in 2007, the GlobalHue umbrella has four full-service communications agencies: GlobalHue Latino; GlobalHue Africanic; GlobalHue Asian; and GlobalHue Next. All provide market expertise to clients who want to reach African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, gay and lesbian, and multicultural consumers. Headquartered in the Town Center in Southfield, GlobalHue has offices in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Orlando, Irvine, Calif., and Los Angeles.    

Robb and Sibyl will be speaking to us from our Southfield office.  Their presentation will be broadcast over the Internet to each of our other offices around the state.  The Lunch-and-Learn will begin at noon, on Monday, April 27

It promises to be a fascinating discussion.  If you would like to join your Warner colleagues at this Lunch-and-Learn, please RSVP to Robin Keith by Monday, April 20.

• Warner Norcross & Judd Receives Diversity Visionary Award

On March 12, Warner Norcross & Judd was presented with the 2009 Diversity Visionary Award by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.  The firm’s Diversity Partner, Rodney Martin, accepted the award on behalf of the firm. His remarks appear below. 

Remarks on Accepting the Diversity Visionary Award

On behalf of Warner Norcross & Judd, I want to express how grateful we are to receive this award.

It is very humbling to follow the likes of Jim Hackett, Bob Woodrick and Cascade Engineering in receiving this award, knowing how much each of them has done to level the playing field of opportunity for all people. Their leadership and example have inspired us, and many others in this community, to take seriously the commitment to diversity.

Diversity Visionary AwardIt is also a great honor to receive this recognition from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, which has done so much to spread the message that, faced with a rapidly changing world, the economic future of our community depends in large part upon our ability to attract diverse peoples from anywhere in the world and to include them in the fabric of our businesses and our community. As a community, we owe a great debt to the Chamber for its leadership.

This award is a milestone on a continuing journey for our firm. We have been on this path for many years. About 10 years ago, John Tully, who was then our Managing Partner, spoke passionately to us about the need to become a more diverse organization. Following his example, we began sending attorneys and staff members to the Institute for Healing Racism and building momentum for change. The Institute helped us to understand white privilege and to begin to see how it affected us as individuals and as an organization.

Our experiences at the Institute led us to bring in a nationally known consultant to conduct a cultural assessment of the firm. Through questionnaires and focus groups, the consultant was able to provide us with a picture of ourselves. Holding a mirror up to your face is not always flattering, but it is an essential step in achieving change. The assessment allowed us to bring into the open the ingrained biases – both personal and institutional – that we would have to confront if we were to achieve our goal of being a diverse and inclusive organization.

The institute and the consultant’s report helped us to see more clearly what we aspired to be and what we needed to overcome to achieve our goal. They provided us with the vision, if you will, to see what a diverse and inclusive firm would look like. But, as Futurist Joel Barker has said, “Vision without action is merely a dream.”

The true measure of leadership in an organization is whether it can convert vision into action. We have been fortunate over the past decade to have leaders who were willing to commit the organization to do what was necessary to move forward. As an organization we are indebted to John Tully, Alex DeYonker, and Doug Wagner, each of whom during the last decade served as Managing Partner and used that position to speak out about the importance of change to create the structures that have led us to this point. Everything that we have been able to achieve as a firm has been made possible by the commitment at the top.

Because of that commitment to diversity and inclusion, our firm is a better organization. Our growing diversity has brought us a broader range of perspectives and experiences that have made us better able to serve our clients. Our emphasis on respect, inclusion and teamwork allows individuals in the firm to have more fulfilling careers and is essential to maintaining an engaged workforce that is dedicated to working together to meet the needs of our clients. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion has resulted in a better partnership with each other, with our clients, and with our community.

There are many in this community to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for helping us along our journey. Bob Woodrick, Bing Goei, Sonya Hughes, Brian Harris, Faye Richardson Green, and Alice Kennedy, to name just a few, have been great resources for us and great sources of inspiration. Your insights, your kindness, your passion and your dedication to diversity have been invaluable. We are better because of you.

West Michigan is a wonderfully diverse community. But it will only continue to prosper if it leverages that diversity and truly becomes an inclusive community — a community where each person is able to participate and contribute, a community that values our differences and understands our commonality, a community that recognizes that our lives will be richer and our community more prosperous if we embrace each other and the future. In this, the business community must lead. If it fails to do so, change will overwhelm us and leave us behind.

Warner Norcross & Judd is proud of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce for the leadership role it plays in this regard, and we are grateful to the Chamber for this award this evening.

Thank you.