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Minority GC Rates Hit All-Time High

Vivia Chen

August 24, 2012

© WavebreakMediaMicro - Fotolia.comThe number of minority general counsel in the Fortune 500 hit an all-time high in 2011 . According to the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, that elite circle now includes 47 minorities,  four more than in 2010.

"At 9.4 percent of the total, this is the most minorities ever to serve in the post," says the MCCA press release.

That's sounds great—until you realize that minority GC rates are still below the 10 percent mark.

I'm especially shocked that the number of minority GC at Fortune 500 companies hasn't cracked 10 percent because women have made far greater progress in breaking into corporate America's top legal ranks. Just recently, I posted about how women now make up 21 percent of the GC  at Fortune 500 companies. (We will be asking MCCA president and CEO Joseph West about these results for an upcoming post.)

For now, though, the MCCA, at least, isn't complaining. CEO West states in the group's press release announcing the findings: “The number of minority general counsel at Fortune 500 companies has been steadily increasing since 2008,” despite the tough economy and the high unemployment rates among minorities.

Here are some other highlights of the study (the complete MCCA survey of Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 women and minority GC will appear in the September/October 2012 issue of MCCA's magazine Diversity & the Bar, and on the MCCA website):

    •    Of the Fortune 500's 47 minority GC, 28 are African American, 11 are Asian American, and six are Hispanic. The others, according to the MCCA, include one from the Middle East and one from Armenia.

    •    All four of the new minority GC were women. The number of minority men remains at 28. "This continues a trend which has seen the number of minority women more than double from eight in 2008 to 19 in 2011."

    •    Minority GC rates declined at the Fortune 250 in 2011 (26 of the companies had minority general counsel, a decrease of one from 2010).

  •     Minority GC rates also declined at the Fortune 1000 (those companies ranked between 501 and 1,000). In 2010, there were 23 minorities; last year, there were 20.

    •    Companies with minority general counsel are located all over the nation, though California had the highest number (nine), followed by Illinois (seven), New York and Florida  (four each), and Texas (three).

I hate to be a griper, but it seems the progress for minorities is awfully awfully slow. But I guess any progress is better than the alternative.

What do you think? Is that 9.4 percent something to cheer about?

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Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? Email The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.




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Remember the character "Twofer" on 30 Rock? His nickname explains why all four of the new minority GC were women. Have sat in the C Suite, I can promise you that's a consideration.

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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