Partner, Chief Diversity Officer
Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP, Madison, N.J.
Paulette Brown, partner and chief diversity officer at the Madison, N.J., law firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP, argues that diversity without inclusion is “almost meaningless.”
“Many people think of diversity as having ‘numbers.’ [However], once they’re in an organization, it is extremely important for diverse individuals to feel that they are a part of the fabric of the organization,” says Brown, who is a member of her firm’s labor and employment group. “In addition to people realizing that having a diverse organization is the ‘right thing to do,’ they also realize that customers and clients are very much interested in the same. Businesses cannot be sustained without an effective diversity and inclusion program.”
Brown received a bachelor’s degree from Howard University and a law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law. She served on
the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession and co-authored the nationally acclaimed study “Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms,” which revealed that 86 percent of women of color leave their firms within five years of being hired. In most instances, they aren’t incorporated into the fabric firm. The findings led Brown to form a group for women of color associates in New Jersey. She envisioned the group as a safe environment for the women to discuss issues affecting them in their law firms.
“As I went around the country talking about the report and trying to provide solutions to this issue, it occurred to me that most women of color in law firms in New Jersey had no women partners of color to serve as mentors,” Brown says. She partnered with two of the three other African-American female partners in major law firms in the state to form the group, which, since then, has expanded to include women of color from smaller firms.