Genentech, Inc.

Genentech, Inc.

2008 Employer of Choice Award Winner

West Region

Sean Johnston
Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Genentech, Inc. is an old company in a new industry. More than thirty years ago, venture capitalist Robert A. Swanson and biochemist Dr. Herbert W. Boyer combined their talents to develop a company that specialized in a new generation of therapeutic medicine. Today, they are still applying new solutions to old problems.

“I first became aware that diversity was a priority at Genentech when I joined the company more than twenty years ago. It was a smaller company then, but what always mattered most was that the company had skilled employees at every position,” recalls Sean Johnston, senior vice president and general counsel of Genentech.

Genentech’s sterling reputation as an employer helps it attract employees. In 2008, Genentech received a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, a measure of a company’s treatment of gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual employees.

“Our commitment to diversity is built on activities with MCCA and other diversity events like the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom and Equal Justice Society,” Johnston states. Other diversity events sponsored by Genentech include the Equal Rights Advocates luncheon and the California Minority Counsel Program.

MCCA’s recognition of the company is proof that reputational knowledge is out there and helps informed job seekers pick a great company to work for, Johnston opines. “The award is a reminder of our continued success over the years but we are not resting on our laurels,” he adds.

(L to R) Veta Richardson of MCCA, Sean Johnston of Genentech, and Christopher Reynolds of Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc.

Genentech maintains a proactive approach to diversity. In addition to community outreach and involvement in diversity organizations, Genentech utilizes an in-house diversity program called Diversity in Action. The three-tiered plan focuses on recruitment, development, and inclusion of various attorneys.

The program is championed and supported by a diversity council consisting of leaders from each of Genentech’s Diversity Network Associations (DNA), the company-sponsored employee groups that established a grassroots diversity effort both on and off the company’s campus. The company’s eight DNA groups meet on a monthly basis to further diversity at Genentech.

Genentech places a premium on developing fresh recruitment strategies, targeting students in diverse college settings to refresh the talent pipeline, and partnering with other select outside agencies and recruiters that offer a roster of diverse candidates.

The metrics at Genentech tell the real story: 24% of attorneys are minorities and 62% are women. Of managing attorneys, 16% are minorities and 36% are women.

“It is not just lawyers or the legal department that champion diversity at Genentech; it is everyone, and that is one of the things that make it a great company. We are very appreciative of the senior management for making a strong commitment to diversity and leading our company in the right direction,” Johnston concludes. DB

From the November/December 2008 issue of Diversity & The Bar®

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