Civil Rights and Racial Equity Audits
Companies and their boards are facing increasing pressure from shareholders and other stakeholders to follow through on their diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) commitments. Our Civil Rights and Racial Equity Audit Practice is among the nation’s first dedicated legal teams focused on conducting racial equity audits and other civil rights audits—proactive, powerful tools that help ensure that companies and investment firms are delivering on their commitments, while mitigating potential legal, reputational and business risk.
Amid an environment of increased stakeholder expectations, scrutiny and accountability around corporate DE&I commitments, our Racial Equity Audit group offers an independent examination of racial equity within an organization, and a concrete plan of action to address potential gaps in a thoughtful, timely and transparent manner aligned with each client’s unique business interests and priorities.
Our audit team, comprised of some of our most experienced, sought-after counsel, has executed numerous sensitive and expedited internal investigations and audits, including DE&I-focused and human rights audits, helping boards and management be informed, act effectively and respond appropriately to internal stakeholders and the public. Leveraging both our longstanding leadership in the DE&I and civil rights areas, and a dedicated Sustainability & ESG Advisory group—among the first at a law firm nationally—we have holistic experience and a track record that are unique among law firms. Our proactive, strategic approach is often able to reduce or eliminate the most damaging potential fallout.
No firm has more experience than we do in helping companies and boards manage and navigate potentially serious allegations and demands from shareholders. Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is leading the efforts of our Racial Equity Audits practice, along with a core team that consists of former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson; firm Chairman Brad Karp; Karen Dunn, a nationally recognized crisis management adviser; former federal prosecutor Jeannie Rhee; and litigation partners Elizabeth Sacksteder and Liza Velazquez. The team also includes Sustainability & ESG Advisory Practice co-chair David Curran, a nationally recognized leader in helping complex organizations build resilience, and is supported by the firm’s Inclusion Department.
Our multidisciplinary teams of lawyers and other business professionals review policies, foundational commitments, practices and oversight mechanisms across the enterprise; analyze the implications of particular practices, flagging salient legal and reputational liabilities; and, when appropriate, investigate specific incidents or series of incidents. Our tailored action plans include specific policy recommendations as well as guidance on how and what to track, measure and monitor to ensure that racial equity is fostered on an ongoing basis, and that issues are addressed before they become serious legal, reputational and business risks.