Law firms that pack their lower ranks with minorities and women while leaving white men in charge are about to find Wal-Mart a tough customer. The nation's biggest retailer wants to see diversity at the top.
The company's general counsel has told its top 100 law firms that at least one person of color and one woman must be among the top five relationship attorneys that handle its business.
Wal-Mart GC Thomas Mars made the announcement last week at an Atlanta conference on legal diversity....
Mars, whose department spends about $200 million a year on outside legal services, said he realized he had to do something when he saw that 82 of the top 100 relationship partners handling the company's business are white men....
Once the retailing giant gets lists of attorneys from its outside firms, due in mid-July, it will start weeding accordingly, Mars said. "We'll be making more decisions to retain and terminate firms [at that point]," he said. "We are terminating a firm right now strictly because of their inability to grasp our diversity expectations," he added....
Wal-Mart's new policy signals a growing determination by corporate legal departments to pressure outside counsel. It is no longer enough, the general counsel at the symposium said, to raise the numbers of women and minority lawyers in a firm's lower ranks if its upper echelons remain an exclusive club for white men....
Mars acknowledged that corporate legal departments also have a way to go on diversity. Wal-Mart's legal department started an effort to increase its own diversity about 2 1/2 years ago. "We had 50 lawyers and no particular diversity in the group," he said. Last year, the company hired 39 lawyers and 15 were minorities, he said.
Now Wal-Mart wants to hold its outside counsel to the same standard.
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Respond to concerns on negative image
Concerned that the nation's incendiary culture wars have taken a toll on their image, Christian conservatives are joining liberals in calling for more government spending to combat global poverty and are urging fellow evangelicals to remember that their primary calling is personal ministry, not politics.
The National Association of Evangelicals -- a conservative group mostly known for its opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage -- joined other religious leaders meeting in London last week to urge those attending the upcoming Group of Eight summit in Scotland to dramatically increase aid and trade benefits to impoverished nations.
That call was made just days after the Southern Baptist Convention agreed to end a boycott of The Walt Disney Co. over its gay-family days at theme parks, forgo a proposed boycott of Carnival Cruise Lines over gay cruises, display more understanding toward gays -- and present a gentler face to the world with a campaign to baptize 1 million people by September 2006.
''Southern Baptists seem to have been known in recent years for what we're against," said James T. Draper Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Convention's publishing arm. ''The perception is that we are mean and negative."...
Even after they were credited with electoral successes in 2004, Christian conservative leaders ''have been stung by the criticism toward them, that they weren't doing politics on the whole gospel, but only on part of it," said John C. Green, a University of Akron political science professor who has written books on religion and politics....
The 11,000 ''messengers" who attended the [Southern Baptist Convention's] annual meeting at a Nashville arena were overwhelmingly white and the leadership mostly men. In the past, the convention has made headlines with its stands against women as ministers and in favor of wives submitting to their husbands.
A chart in the exhibition hall listed abortion and homosexuality first in its ''top 10 issues facing today's church," and Bush, speaking via video, drew standing ovations when he pledged to defend the family and marriage. A resolution was passed encouraging churches to investigate the impact of the ''homosexual agenda" in public schools.
Many church leaders worry that their take-no-prisoners approach to the culture wars is turning off potential new members. ''If you're condemning people to hell you're not going to get many converts," Green said.