In this interview with Corporate Counsel Business Journal, Shawn R. White unveils her “secret recipe” for working with the family office of Will Smith, Jaden Pinkett Smith and their family circle.
“While I considered working as a General Counsel for the Smith’s, I was considering my own family, as my father’s health was declining,” White says. “Working with this family brought deep comfort to me during the period that turned out to be the last two years of my father’s life. Supporting vastly different creative personalities and being encircled by this family at work is tons of fun. I mean, my work supports the Fresh Prince and Lena James from the show A Different World, two television characters that profoundly influenced on me as a young Black woman. Come on, how amazing is that in terms of a full-circle moment.” Looking beyond her GC role, White has plenty to say about the need for change in the legal profession. “In many instances, corporate law departments are advancing more rapidly than their law firm counterparts and there are lessons that can be learned from that success,” she says, laying out a six-step program: begin at the beginning with critical attention to eliminating bias in hiring, creating internships, and other pipeline programs; address employee retention and promotion without falling under the spell of the revolving door of your metrics – which can seem as if the needle is moving on DEI but instead reflects new diverse employees replacing others and overall dissatisfaction and departures; make money matter by creating incentives that reward leaders for success and hold them accountable; use your resources to offer enrichment opportunities to bridge the gaps created by our nation’s past to achieve equity; and be bold and willing to overhaul processes and dismantle internal norms. “Diversity adds to everything we do,” she concludes. “Diverse perspectives matter. The world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and we must value diversity, equity, and inclusivity if the U.S. is to remain a dominant player on the world stage.” Read more from White at CCBJ.