McDonald’s Creates “EMPOWER Award” to Honor Law Firms Committed to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

March 15, 2021

At McDonald’s, our Global DEI Aspiration is that no matter where you are in the world, when you interact with McDonald’s, diversity, equity and inclusion are as evident and familiar as the Arches themselves. As an iconic, global organization, we know that McDonald’s is well-positioned to serve as a catalyst for change to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion around the world.

Within McDonald’s, our Legal Department recognizes that a diverse and inclusive legal profession is a better one. Consequently, McDonald’s Legal Department has created the EMPOWER Award, an annual honor meant to recognize legal service suppliers that go beyond words and demonstrate, through action and innovation, that diversity matters to their organizations.

This week, McDonald’s announced the inaugural winners of the EMPOWER Award: Proskauer Rose LLP and FordHarrison LLP. Both firms embody McDonald’s core values and demonstrate an innovative and genuine commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Through representation in their leadership, diversity in staffing, and extensive DEI programming, these two firms have gone above and beyond to create and drive meaningful change.

We are also happy to share that three McDonald’s attorneys have been selected to participate in the Leadership Counsel on Legal Diversity’s (LCLD) Fellows and Pathfinder programs.  McDonald’s Legal Department is a proud longstanding member of LCLD, an organization of legal leaders who have dedicated themselves to creating a truly diverse U.S. legal profession.

The LCLD Fellows program (designed for mid-career attorneys) and the LCLD Pathfinder program (designed for early-career attorneys) are both focused on career development for high-potential, diverse attorneys. Tanya Miari and Rita Srivastava have been chosen to participate in the LCLD Fellows program, and Keemya Maghsoudi has been chosen to participate in the Pathfinder program.  In 2020, McDonald’s was designated by the LCLD as a Top Performer, which recognizes those organizations in the top 20% for participation in LCLD programs and activities.

Additionally, in 2020, McDonald’s Legal Department took a decisive step in promoting DEI by committing to the Mansfield Rule: Legal Department Edition (MRLD). MRLD is a two-year long program run by Diversity Lab, an incubator for innovative ideas and solutions that boost diversity and inclusion in law.  MRLD requires legal departments to consider at least 50% lawyers from underrepresented groups for permanent and outside counsel hiring, promotions, and high-visibility professional opportunities. Participating legal departments also must provide written and transparent processes for advancement opportunities and join in knowledge-sharing calls with the other legal department participants.  McDonald’s Legal welcomed the opportunity to add the rigorous framework and accountability of the Mansfield Rule’s structure and has gone a step further and applied the MRLD to all functions within McDonald’s Legal (as opposed to only lawyers, as MRLD requires).

We are also one of four “Supporting Legal Departments” in Diversity Lab’s Move the Needle Fund, a collaborative effort between in-house legal departments and law firms to test groundbreaking initiatives to create a more diverse and inclusive legal profession. This year, as part of the Move the Needle program, we are partnering  with Proskauer and Greenberg Traurig LLP in the Move the Needle 2021 1L Pipeline Collective to interview first-year law students from schools that are currently underrepresented in law firms’ on-campus interviews, including historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and will have two interns split their summers between the firms and McDonald’s legal department. Above all, our work with Diversity Lab aligns with McDonald’s belief that diversity makes our legal department, our company and our communities, better.

We believe McDonald’s has the ability and responsibility to use our scale and scope to accelerate change in entire industries. As we continue to strive toward excellence in diversity, equity, and inclusion in all areas of our work, we’re excited for these new legal initiatives and the ways they will impact the legal community inside and outside of McDonald’s.

Photo Credit: Modern Counsel.

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