NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Inclusion Initiative is a collaborative effort of companies committed to multi-million dollar annual goals for legal spend with minority and women owned (MWBE) law firms. The 17 companies participating in the Inclusion Initiative last year set an aggregate goal of $70 million for 2011 and exceeded that goal, ultimately spending about $97.7 million with MWBE firms in 2011.
The Inclusion Initiative was launched in 2010 by major companies with a demonstrated commitment to diversity in the legal profession, drawn from a wide cross-section of industries. The participating companies believe that supporting MWBE law firms is a key component of a larger strategy to help build and maintain diversity in the legal profession. The $97.7 million total was achieved in only the second year of the program. Companies participating in the initiative during 2010 also exceeded their first year goal of $30 million, spending about $42.6 million in the year. In fact, in the first two years of the program, total expenditures on MWBE law firms exceeded $140 million.
The seventeen companies that contributed to the success of the Inclusion Initiative in 2011 are Accenture, American Airlines, Comcast, DuPont, Exelon, General Mills, GlaxoSmithKline, Google, JPMorgan Chase, Macy's, Microsoft, Prudential, Sempra Energy, Shell Oil Company, Verizon, Walmart and Xerox. All of these companies have agreed to renew and expand their efforts in 2012. They will be joined this year by five new companies: Aetna, Allstate, Bank of America, McDonald's, and UPS. Collectively, these 22 companies have raised the bar yet again, setting an aggregate goal of spending $118 million with MWBE firms in 2012.
"The achievement of the Inclusion Initiative companies over the first two years of the program is truly impressive. This is both a testament to the commitment of the participating companies to this important legal diversity program and a tremendous vote of confidence in the quality of the work provided by the MWBE law firms," said Susan Blount, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Prudential Financial Inc., a founding member of the Inclusion Initiative.
"We were proud to join the Inclusion Initiative last year and it is apparent that its success is directly related to the passion its member companies bring to the cause. The expanded commitment in 2012 will continue to help secure the long term success of many MWBE law firms and that is an admirable goal for all," said Curtis Frasier, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Shell Oil Company, U.S.
Allstate Insurance Company is among the companies joining the effort in 2012. "Allstate is pleased to join the Inclusion Initiative because it gives us yet another avenue to demonstrate our commitment to diversity in the legal profession," said Michele Coleman Mayes, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Allstate.
"The Inclusion Initiative rapidly expanded since 2010 for two main reasons," said Robin A. Wofford, board member and Inclusion Initiative task force chair for the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law firms (NAMWOLF www.namwolf.org.). "Many incredibly talented minority and women lawyers are running successful firms doing highly sophisticated legal work, and America's leading companies recognize the value in these firms. NAMWOLF now routinely fields inquiries from other companies looking to use the best diverse law firms in the country." The Inclusion Initiative is not limited to the use of NAMWOLF law firms. The Inclusion Initiative is administered by NAMWOLF, which is composed of more than 100 certified MWBE law firms and dedicated to increasing the utilization of diverse law firms by corporate and public entity legal departments.
SOURCE The National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms