WASHINGTON, DC — The Corporate Counsel Men of Color conference orchestrated by Laurie Robinson Haden and her planning committee wanted to bring minority men together to celebrate the successful few in legal and other corporate professions. See below for a synopsis of the conference with key takeaways for male lawyers of color provided by Thomson Reuters business graduate Kwasi Porter-Hill to create a support network and learn in a community to advance in their careers.
The first session discussed strategies intended to help men of color successfully position themselves in the role they are looking to attain. The speakers for the panel were Corey Anthony, Chief Diversity Officer at AT&T; Rodney Slater, Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation; and B. Doyle Mitchell, Jr., CEO of Industrial Bank. The panelists’ key nuggets of wisdom included:
- How crucial it is to have a mentor who can provide instruction and be a champion for your career progression;
- How dealing with frustration can be appropriately managed by providing value; and
- How important it is to support fellow minorities behind you.
The second session provided winning recipes to help turn any situation or setback into a platform for success. Celebrity chef Jeff Henderson made the point that the level of poverty in minority communities is a setback, but those experiences can be leveraged. He also talked about how poverty in part continues because of a lack of education about wealth creation, underscoring the value of a great education. Lastly, he challenged the audience to focus on learning transferable skills.
The third session was a fireside chat highlighting strategies for gaining visibility among senior management to potentially earn advancement opportunities. The speakers were Bruce Gordon, a board member of the CBS Corporation and Northrop Grumman; and Clarence Otis, a board member of Verizon. The critical methods cited by the speakers were:
- Be the best at your current job.
- Make sure you are leaving a good impact.
- Have the courage to stand alone and stick to your convictions even when others think you are wrong.
- Realize that you have to do what you need to do and be prepared to do work you are not passionate about.
- Create your personal brand and make it work for you.
Kelvin Boston, the founder of Moneywise TV Network, educated the audience on the importance of legacy-building. He shared his recipe for financial success — time-plus-money-plus-opportunities equals success. And he noted that median wealth per household in the African-American community is just $7,000. Boston asserted the critical need to overcome financial fear and the importance of entrepreneurship to collectively focus on decreasing the wealth gap.
The conference also had two inspiring sessions on personal and professional development. The legendary football player Hines Ward, Jr. stressed his key life lessons: i) be comfortable in your own skin; ii) choose your path wisely and understand that decisions have consequences; iii) take responsibility by stepping up, working hard and holding yourself accountable; and iv) fake it until you make it by embracing challenges head-on.
Susan Taylor, Editor-in-chief Emeritus of Essence magazine, and Rev. Dr. Grainger Browning, Jr., Senior Pastor at Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, encouraged the audience to embrace and practice self-love and use their intuition as a guide. More specifically, if you have an inner feeling of knowing you are dissatisfied, it may be a sign that you have to give up something that is not serving you. Taylor and Browning each shared the importance of learning to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Finally, they impressed upon session participants to always have a plan for your future and to remember that you can determine the person you will be in life.
Indeed, the conference was an unforgettable experience. The vast number of men of color searching to find a way to further their communities by pursuing excellence in their careers was inspirational. Their journeys and careers are a testament to the willpower of ambitious and hardworking lawyers of color throughout the nation, because it is men like them who have kept and will continue to keep the torch shining for the next generation of exceptional young lawyers and professionals.