Celebrating Black History Month: An Interview with Monique Burt Williams


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Black History Month (via the side link)

Like many of us, I was excited to turn the page in 2020 to reveal a new year – new perspectives, a new outlook, and possibly a return to something resembling a normal life. But let’s face it: things still looked a little unusual, and I suspect she’ll feel this way for a while.

I am not alone in this opinion. Recently, I was talking with my colleague Monique Burt Williams – CEO of Cadence Counsel, the sister company of Lateral Link that focuses exclusively on hiring an in-house counselor – and commented that a lot of things are still different. For example, I mentioned Black History Month, which is happening now.

This led to a fun chatter, which I thought I would share on these pages. I know many of you are very concerned about diversity, equality and inclusion, and so some of what Monique and I discussed might have resonance. Here are some edited excerpts from our discussion.

DL: How do you feel about Black History Month this year, Monique?

MBW: The sheer range of feelings that we have collectively experienced over the past year has been amazing, especially for African Americans. This is the first black history month since the murder of George Floyd and the activity that triggered this event. This is also the first month in black history since Kamala Harris became the first black vice president of our country. So, here we are grappling with this painful part of our reality, along with this delightful and groundbreaking piece of black history for meditation.

So yeah, things look different because things are Be Different. I can see actual movement and purposeful activity. I can feel the speed and power of movement. And it’s not just happening on the streets, where we’ve seen protesters demanding justice, but in American companies as well.

DL: As a recruiter, you talk to big corporations every day about what they do on multiple fronts – including, but not limited to, diversity, equality, and inclusion. Can you provide some examples of companies getting the ball rolling on DEI?

MBW: Absolutely. Take a look at what The Coca-Cola General Counsel, Bradley Jaiton, said recently Advertise. It is one of the most demanding outside consultant diversity programs to date, inviting law firms to give a portion of the work to Black attorneys specifically – and lowering legal fees for companies that fail to meet new standards.

Or see what Laura Schumacher, General Counsel at AbbVie, has been working on – for some time. As I explained on Last year’s interview, AbbVie began with an initiative with offshore law firms where it creates goals – ambitious goals, ‘outreach goals’ – in relation to the female and minority representation they want to see in their affairs. Goals are measurable, so AbbVie and its companies can sit back each year and see what progress has been made against pre-set goals.

Also here in the Chicago area, Suheily Natal Davis at McDonald’s does a great job. She was previously a Senior Adviser for Global Business and Employment and then General Counselor for Latin America and McDonald’s, but recently moved to the position of Senior Director of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion, so she can focus more on DEI initiatives.

DL: And how can you say that Black History Month, and the introspection it encourages, is affecting your work at Cadence Counseling, helping companies find diverse top-notch talent?

MBW: I spent a lot of time contemplating our work on Cadence Counsel, and recently I was inspired by Andrew Cooper LinkedIn sharing About our surprising ability to influence strangers completely.

this year , Trait Black History Month is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.” When we create a position, I think of all the life that we are affected by that position. We help the candidate improve his career, which in turn affects the candidate’s family, new colleagues, their contribution to the economy, and more. We help our clients build legal teams that influence countless policies and employees across various industries. The extension is really amazing. When I apply this same thought process to create opportunities for individuals who have historically been marginalized, the effect is more pronounced. This is why we do the job.

DL: What final thoughts would you like to leave us with about Black History Month?

MBW: Honoring the past is crucial, which is why Black History Month is so important. But I want us to also think about the future – the idea of ​​using our history as a bridge for us Making Date. The work we will do together to promote diversity, fairness, and inclusion in the legal profession is historic. Feel lively through the collaborations going on to create measurable progress, and a cadence consultant is excited to be a part of that impact.

DL: Thank you, Monique, for taking the time to share your insight with us – and thank you for your work over the years in making a new history for DEI in the legal field.


DBL square headEd. Note: This is the latest release in a series of posts from Side link A team of expert contributors. This post by David Lat, Managing Director of the New York office, where he focuses on placing senior employees, partners, and partner groups in prominent law firms across the country.

Before joining Lateral Link, David founded and worked as managing editor of Above the Law magazine. Prior to launching Above the Law, he worked as a federal attorney general, litigation assistant at Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz in New York, and legal clerk for Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. David is a graduate of Harvard and Yale Law School. You can contact David at Twitter (@DavidLat), Linkedin, And the The social networking site FacebookYou can contact him via email at dlat@laterallink.com.


Rhythm Advisor Is a boutique search firm exclusively focused on hiring an in-house consultant. We specialize in retained executive search, placement of special advisors, and diversity and development counseling. Cadence Counseling, a certified women’s business enterprise, is a leading diversified resource for in-house legal professionals within the Fortune 500.


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