When Discover Financial’s legal department set out to create a mentor program that focused on diversity and inclusion, they wanted to make sure a program was created that would allow them to collaborate and work alongside their outside counsel. Discover’s legal department came to the realization that there was an opportunity to create a program that could help outside firms with leadership development.
Due to the firm’s close relationship with the legal team at Discover, several of the firm’s associates were invited to participate in Discover’s diversity mentoring program last year. Birmingham associates James Roberts and Miya Moore had the honor of being involved in the pilot year.
Discover’s program stands out above other diversity mentoring initiatives because “while diversity and inclusion is a common phrase, many organizations tend to only focus on diversity. However, inclusion creates a culture that allows diversity to flourish. Discover’s program is pioneering because it not only embraces diversity, but it actively emphasizes inclusion. In the words of Verna Myers, “Diversity is being asked to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance,” said Miya Moore.
Moore also said about the program, “it focuses on the legal trajectory of young diverse talent and provides the reassurance needed for those individuals to feel valued and continue progressing in the right direction. Moreover, the program provides a front row seat for diverse associates as to the expectations of outside counsel, essentially creating a road map for client relations in general.”
When Discover began to build out the framework of the program, the Discover litigation team settled on three career drivers they wanted to promote as mentors and which they felt were key to success within a law firm setting: (1) relationship-building; (2) leadership, and (3) visibility. The Discover attorneys wanted to share the value of relationships in particular to help associates think about how they can demonstrate leadership on their cases and within their law firms, regardless of their role or level.
Considering the program’s initial goals, it was important that inside and outside counsel work together to not only increase the morale of those at the center of D&I initiatives, but also aid in retention and stimulate participation efforts at the highest levels, “ said Moore. “By working together on diverse initiatives, inside counsel and outside counsel fashion a competitive advantage that results in better decision making, more efficient problem solving, and increased creativity—all of which are critical in providing clients with the best services.”
Discover Financial’s diversity mentoring program was recently featured in the April issue of the ACC Docket. James Roberts, Miya Moore, as well as Burr’s Financial Services Practice Group Leader, David Elliott, were all quoted in the article.
In addition, Fort Lauderdale associate Sara Solano is currently participating in Discover’s diversity mentoring program.