2021 Influential Businesswoman Awards

6 Acquisition International - Influential Businesswoman Awards 2021 Jul21132 Diversity-in-Law Advocate of the Year 2021: Laurie N. Robinson Haden Laurie Robinson Haden, an exemplary law expert from New York City, is part of a group known as the Corporate Counsel Women of Color. Having begun as 11 women of colour practicing law who were determined to make a difference and to change the sector for the better, the Corporate Counsel’s efforts have been felt across the nation and further afield, making a predominantly white industry make room for practitioners of colour, and a more inclusive future and workplace. he Corporate Counsel Women of Color was set up when a group of lawyers realized they could only count the number of women of colour law practitioners operating in the Big Apple on two hands. In a city of thousands of practicing lawyers, where the industry is so dynamic, highly pressurised, and incredibly lucrative, it is a place crying out for new perspectives and ideas in the industry of law and legislative practice; but this has simply not been happening. Fundamentally, Corporate Counsel Women of Color strives to make a healthy environment where women of colour working in law can find support, creating a network of like-minded individuals who are on hand to provide encouragement, career growth help, and advice to those just starting out. In essence, by creating a space in which these strategies could be shared and cultivated, it has begun to make waves in its industry. With Corporate Counsel Women of Color being a safe space its members can come back to in order to gain the tools they need to carve out their space, it is making the industry make room for women of colour in legal practice. Before LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media entities – as the Counsel has been working hard for its members for a long time – it would get in touch with its members by way of email, encouraging existing participants to email five additional women and get them involved. By growing in this manner, Corporate Counsel Women of Color was able to achieve a naturalistic and highly effective growth strategy. The group grew to over 50 members within the first few months of its setup, and today, it stands at over 4700 members strong; going from feeling so isolated and alone to knowing they have this extraordinary network at their back, the founders of the Counsel are humbled and emboldened by the positive response. Now, approaching two decades since its inception, the organisation is committed to fighting harder than ever for the professional wellbeing of its members both in the United States and internationally. ‘It’s amazing how far we’ve come’, Laurie Robinson Haden tells us, and indeed it is. However, this organisation promises that it will not be stopping anytime soon, as it is forever finding new ways to advocate for women of colour in the field of legal practice in New York and beyond, hosting events that cover everything from how to negotiate your worth to mentorship programmes. This covers all manner of subjects – such as the best way to ask for a pay rise – and in creating T its mentoring and teaching programmes, it is seeing its reach expand on a daily basis, with yet more budding young professionals being brought into its ranks by igniting in them that spark of ambition. Of course, with the pandemic having hit the world hard, Corporate Counsel Women of Color was no different to many other organisations as it found itself having to adapt accordingly. It did not stop it, of course, but it found that it had to adapt many of its service provisions to operate virtually just as well as they did on a face-to-face basis, such as its highly popular seminars and lectures. Critically, prior to the outbreak, 1300 women attended its conferences on career strategy and retirement planning. This proves that not only is there incredible demand for such things, but that said demand is on the rise; Robinson Haden herself commented on the spike in interest, mentioning how gratifying it is to see so many people looking for information on career development and planning. Moreover, there has been significant interest in good practice when it comes to negotiation and building wealth for the future. In essence, this has proven to Corporate Counsel Women of Color and to the rest of the world that the tides are changing in the modern workforce, and that modern workers are more determined than ever to ensure that they are being treated fairly and that they have the correct tools to be able to access the professional treatment they are owed. Many of the women of colour who attend its seminars and classes are the first in their families to go to college, which is again showing a turning point in the social paradigms of the USA as a nation. Corporate Counsel Women of Color is pleased to be one of the organisations stepping up to give these young women the guidance and insight they need in order to thrive in their educational careers. Atrociously, even today, women of colour earn 63 cents to the dollar earned by their white male colleagues. A truly astonishing wage gap to comprehend – and one that is all the worse for Hispanic women who earn 55 cents on the dollar – Corporate Counsel Women of Color is making its sector see that only active work in addressing the problem will change it. Minority women can lose out on almost $1 million over the course of their careers, and what’s more, the wider industry and the women trying to break into it are keenly aware of the disparities that exist within it. Therefore, a lot of Corporate Counsel Women of Color’s work is in helping women to get past the fear of what a lot of young women of colour come to see as the inevitable