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Key Takeaways from the 19th Annual Corporate Counsel Women of Color Conference

In the heart of the nation's capital, a powerful gathering took place. The annual Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC) conference unfolded its 19th chapter. This event presented a series of thought-provoking discussions, each dissecting critical themes ranging from the formidable barriers of race and gender in the workplace to the art of creating a lasting legacy.

In the heart of the nation's capital, a powerful gathering took place.

As the event's slogan proudly proclaims, "Celebrating 19 Years of Diversity and Inclusion in the Law," the CCWC conference has consistently upheld the values of inclusivity, representation, and empowerment. It serves as a prominent platform for the exchange of ideas, strategies, and insights aimed at dismantling the barriers that have long plagued women attorneys of color in the United States and across the globe.

Celebrating 19 Years of Diversity and Inclusion in the Law

Notably, the CCWC conference encompasses a global network of over 5,000 in-house women attorneys of color, spanning across the United States, Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America. This staggering reach highlights the significance of the conference, as it transcends borders and continents to foster a collective commitment to change.

This stands as a testament to the enduring pursuit of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal profession. It is an annual gathering with a profound purpose, and for nearly two decades, this conference has been a vanguard in championing the cause of diversity within the legal community.

As an enthusiastic seeker of wisdom, I embarked on a journey to collect valuable insights shared by the remarkable speakers who graced the stage. This included forces like Tamika Tremaglio; Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association, Tina Knowles; Businesswoman and Fashion Designer, and Wanda Durant; President of The Durant Family Foundation. Join me on a journey through the corridors of the CCWC’s 19th annual conference, as we unveil the gems of knowledge that were shared by some of the worlds most influential women.

My experience at the conference was nothing short of inspiring. From the moment I walked into the bustling conference venue, I could feel the energy in the air, a tangible buzz of anticipation and excitement. Having heard so much about this event and its reputation for fostering professional growth and connections, my expectations were high.

Whether you were a seasoned professional or a newcomer to the field, the environment was conducive to striking up meaningful conversations and forming connections that transcended the usual small talk. The shared passion for diversity and equity in the workplace made it easy to bond with fellow attendees. These connections were not merely superficial; they felt like valuable, lasting relationships forged in a shared mission.

The speakers, who hailed from various sectors and backgrounds, were a true highlight. They addressed topics that cut to the heart of the challenges faced by women attorneys of color in the corporate world. They delved deep into the intricacies of addressing the barriers of race and gender in the workplace and the importance of creating a legacy with intention. The wisdom shared was both pragmatic and inspirational, providing actionable takeaways for attendees to apply in their own careers.

"Chess, Not Checkers: Planning Your Next 5 Strategic Moves." The opening panelists eloquently emphasized the role of queens in the game of chess, drawing a powerful analogy between the strategic moves of a chess queen and the actions that can propel women attorneys of color to success in their careers.

Chess, Not Checkers Panel Members

“Make sure to use your power when you can, because we all have it,” said Sharon Y. Bowen, Former Vice Chair to President Obama, current Chair of the New York Stock Exchange Board of Directors.

Queens make the most important moves, and in the context of professional growth, this meant taking the initiative and embracing pivotal opportunities. They stressed the importance of focusing on relationships, connections, and networking as key strategic moves.

“Networking is about investing in yourself and knowing about your client,” said Bowen.

Just as a queen on a chessboard can traverse the board with grace and power, cultivating strong professional relationships can open doors and create opportunities.

Moreover, the concept of leveraging skills, as mentioned by the panelists, struck a chord with the audience. This session encouraged attendees to recognize and harness their unique strengths and abilities.

However, the most impactful moment came when the panelists urged attendees to "Protect the Queen." This meant surrounding oneself with supportive people who uplift and empower, essentially creating a network of fellow "queens" who would stand by each other in both the best and most challenging moments. The message resonated deeply, emphasizing the significance of mutual support and the strength found in unity.

This served as a powerful reminder of the strategic moves necessary for success in the corporate world, wrapped in a metaphor as timeless and elegant as the game of chess. It was a moment that left attendees inspired, reflecting on the strength they could derive from seizing opportunities with strategic grace.

Tameka Tremaglio shared similar views as she graced the conference stage, “Relationship building is actually everything. People tend to work with people they like.”

Tamika Tremaglio, Diamond Award Honoree

Tremaglio’s session emphasized the importance of giving back and paying it forward. This underscored the importance of personal and strategic networks and the value of diversity in one's professional connections.

“Recognize what it is really happening, ignorance is ignorance,” said Tremaglio, “You have to do it scared but you have to do it.”

In addition, Wanda Durant, the mother of NBA star Kevin Durant, shared her journey of supporting her son's dreams. She stressed the significance of knowing and supporting one's child, even in the face of challenges. Her commitment to her son's aspirations, despite setbacks, served as a powerful example of perseverance and parental support.

“Kevin couldn’t become a basketball player without certain behaviors and commitments. If his coach said Kevin I need you to do 100 push ups, I would go to the gym and say you need to do 250 from the bleachers, ” said Durant, “I trusted and had faith in his dream.”

As the 19th Annual CCWC Conference unfolded, it became abundantly clear that it was more than just a gathering of legal professionals—it was a dynamic exchange of advice, ideas, and inspiration.

Pivot to Tina Knowles, mother of Grammy-Awarded Singer-Songwriters Beyoncé and Solange, and a prominent figure in the beauty industry. She took the stage to share her personal journey of battling racism and stereotypes.

Tina Knowles, and CCWC President Laurie N. Robinson Haden

“In entertainment, a big part has been racism. Or just keeping someone in their place because of their skin color. We were told over and over that a black women couldn’t sell records or magazines. We knew it wasn’t true," said Knowles. "We also had to combat men in the industry who once told Beyonce she didn’t have one hit record at the beginning of her career. We had to stand up to them, and say we are not interested in what you think.”

After leaving that very stressful meeting with executives who downplayed the circumstances, Knowles recalls Beyoncé saying, “They're right, I don’t have one hit. I have five.”

Ms. Knowles highlighted the importance of setting oneself apart and emphasized the need for self-care, especially for those with a drive to accomplish many things. Her advice to her younger self included embracing one's uniqueness and not staying in situations that no longer serve them, and of course, staying fabulous.

The sessions and speakers left a lasting impact on the conference attendees, offering a diverse range of perspectives. Their stories and advice underscored the importance of resilience, diversity, mentorship, and self-care in the journey towards success and personal growth. The shared wisdom and experiences of these remarkable individuals served as a source of inspiration and empowerment for all who had the privilege of attending the conference.

In the realm of professional development, few tools are as potent and transformative as networking events. The Corporate Counsel Women of Color conference, with its unwavering commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion, is a prime example of how such gatherings can act as catalysts for growth and empowerment.

Interested in joining the CCWC for the 20th annual conference at the Bellagio in Las Vegas from October 2nd to 5th? Click here for registration details and secure your spot now!

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