Prudential Financial, Inc.

Prudential Financial, Inc.

2008 Employer of Choice Award Winner

Northeast Region

Susan L. Blount
General Counsel

Prudential Financial, Inc., is one of the largest life insurance firms in the world. Ranked 66th on the 2007 Fortune 500 List of America’s Largest Corporations and 88th on the 2007 Forbes Global 2000 (an annual tabulation of the world’s largest public companies), Prudential is a truly global entity. Prudential has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, and employs people in more than thirty countries as of December 31, 2007. Clearly, when serving clients in Sao Paulo, Singapore, Seoul, and everywhere in between, Prudential needs to connect with its clients.

To work most effectively with clients from around the world, Prudential realized that it needed to maintain a legal team that matched the diversity of its clients and its products. And Prudential general counsel Susan L. Blount has made diversity a priority. Under her leadership, Prudential’s Law, Compliance and Business Ethics (LCBE) department has developed a diversity committee that addresses diversity issues; fosters networking; and performs diversity outreach, mentoring, and recruitment of women and people of color.

“At Prudential, we’ve been very much focused on diversity for a long time. When I became general counsel and the accountability shifted to me, it was important to me to ensure that the LCBE organization was focused on diversity,” says Blount.

Prudential uses an annual measurement process that is tied to management compensation to evaluate its diversity progress. It measures each organization’s performance against short- and long-term objectives for the demonstration of diversity-supportive leadership behaviors and profile representation.

Within LCBE, a team of relationship managers represents Prudential with eight national and local legal affinity groups, including the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), the Garden State Bar Association, and the National Bar Association.

“We encourage the managers to become actively involved in these organizations, and we give them a budget to participate in a variety of different events that gives us more visibility,” Blount explains. She added that during the latest diversity measurement process, LCBE received the most favorable evaluation possible for its diversity efforts.

Prudential met all but one of MCCA’s evaluation criteria for the Employer of Choice award—recruitment at historically black colleges and universities—and that was only due to the fact that the company requires two to five years of experience for new attorney positions and does not recruit directly out of law school. Instead, Prudential relies on recruiting and a “word of mouth” factor to attract younger lawyers. Blount states, “We have a robust summer intern program that indirectly helps us attract young lawyers. It has been quite successful.”

Prudential stays up to date on diversity issues by incorporating everyone in the process. “Administrative assistants, paralegals, and mid-level attorneys are charged with keeping the program vibrant. We need input from everyone to make sure we have an inclusive work environment,” Blount explains.

Prudential has received recognition from several organizations for its accomplishments in diversity. Nevertheless, Prudential considers receiving MCCA’s Employer of Choice award to be a high honor.

“Winning MCCA’s Employer of Choice award is a real energizer for our diversity program. It is a validation for everyone involved that we are on the right track,” Blount concludes. DB

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

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