"It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences." – Audre Lorde
In July 2020, as part of the firm's unwavering commitment to advancing racial equality, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP formed the Racial Equity Council ("REC"), which has been empowered by senior management to enact change at the firm. The REC is comprised of partners, non-partner lawyers and business services personnel located throughout the firm's US offices. The overall mission of the REC is to improve the experience of our Black personnel and to support racial equity throughout the firm.
To date, the REC has implemented a number of key initiatives as reflected below:
- created a comprehensive sponsorship program designed to serve as a career accelerator for Black non-partner lawyers, in which protégés are paired with partner sponsors and partner advocates who work to ensure steady workflow and skill development for protégés and also connect them with firm leaders to best position them to achieve career goals;
- directed firm investment in programming designed to combat racial bias;
- examined and improved our process for filling non-lawyer positions;
- launched a quarterly speaker series with the dual objectives of (1) fostering community within, and providing professional advice to, the Black NRF community, and (2) educating all firm personnel on topics relating to racial equity;
- created affinity groups for Black female lawyers, Black non-partner lawyers and Black business personnel; and
- fortified firm efforts to recruit Black law students and lateral talent; and
- increased awareness of firm professional development opportunities and resources for non-lawyer personnel, including a manager training program, practice coordinator academy and tuition reimbursement program.
With the full support of firm management, the REC continues to endeavor to effect real and lasting change for our Black personnel and for our firm and in our communities.
Breaking Barriers: A conversation with Dr. K. Marie King, the nation's first Black female chair of surgery
On Friday, June 24, 2022 the Racial Equity Council hosted an intimate conversation on sponsorship and the career journey with Dr. K. Marie King, the nation's first Black female chair of surgery at an academic health science center, and Judith A. Archer, Co-Partner-in-Charge, New York.
This enriching program delved into the critical role that sponsors play by strategically using their influence to propel the professional development and careers of their proteges. As one of the only Black women in her fellowship program, which was part of the path to her success as a surgeon, Dr. King noted the mixed challenges she faced as she encountered both champions and doubters. She also highlighted the importance of having someone who sees and recognizes your talents to help in propelling you forward in your career.
"Dr. King is an inspirational leader and we are grateful that she was willing to share her journey with us in such an open and authentic way. Her accomplishments in the face of the challenges she faced, and her unending desire to create opportunities for others are a model for all of us," said moderator Judith Archer.
As an Army veteran, Dr. King acknowledged her experience as a lesson in perseverance and leadership. And in her role as chief of surgery, she discussed the ways in which she is trying to improve opportunities for young Black medical professionals and her profession in general.
"Dr. King's journey, as a Black woman who emigrated from Jamaica, is remarkable. Not only has she had a distinguished career, rising to the top of her field as an accomplished and well-respected surgeon, but she also has broken barriers with her historic achievements, blazing a trail for others to follow, and she has done it all with grace and humility—a true inspiration," said REC Speakers Forum Subcommittee Co-Chair Kim Caine.