Stinson’s Ann Jenrette-Thomas Advances DEI in Legal Industry
Ann Jenrette-Thomas is the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Stinson, a 1,000-person law firm. She established the organization’s inaugural diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) business unit and strategic plan, and worked cross-functionally to meet goals initially considered impossible in a Midwest-centric firm. Under her leadership, the firm increased the percentage of attorneys of color by 120-percent, improved the average retention rate of underrepresented attorneys by 92-percent, and established Stinson as a DEI leader among peers. Ann’s strategy included designing initiatives to address unconscious biases, and developing over 70 virtual and in-person programs for internal and external stakeholders.
Ann relies on the inclusion of two essential elements for success. First, she believes in equipping people with the skills they need to effect change through training, development, and experiential opportunities. Second, she identifies biases within systems by looking at the organization’s policies, practices, and the norms that perpetuate the status quo. After identification of biases, Ann innovates to ameliorate them. She credits her victories to the tireless work of many people throughout all levels of the matrixed organization.