Corporate Spotlight: NBCUniversal

By: Frances Browne; Brody & Browne LLP; New York, New York

NBCUniversal, a dedicated member of NAMWOLF, is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. Diversity is one of the company’s core values.

NBCUniversal’s diversity and inclusion efforts include offering leadership and development programs targeting diverse talent. The company is home to numerous diverse pipeline programs for journalists, writers, directors, actors, producers, comedians and more. For example, the company annually hosts the NBC Short Film Festival and Standup NBC as means to discover diverse voices in film and comedy. And, as is increasingly important in a digital age, the company utilizes social media platforms, such as Twitter (@NBCUdiversity), to foster dialogue and publicize diversity success stories.

NBCUniversal also recognizes the value of achieving a workforce that reflects the diversity of its audience. To that end, the company has both internal and external diversity and inclusion councils that work to implement, promote and sustain diversity throughout the company. NBCUniversal has eight employee resource groups, including the Asian Pacific Americans Alliance, Black Employee Network, MyAbilities, Women’s Network, OUT, Unidos, Veterans Network, and the Young Professionals Network. These groups promote the professional development and foster an inclusive corporate culture.

NBCUniversal’s commitment to diversity extends to its legal department and relationships with outside counsel. Such commitment is most evident in the company’s dedication to NAMWOLF. Steve Chung, a media attorney specializing in First Amendment issues, is one of NBCUniversal’s most active participants in NAMWOLF meetings and events.

Steve joined NBCUniversal’s legal department ten years ago, after clerking for the Northern District of California and practicing law at major firms. Over the course of his career, Steve has witnessed a lack of diversity in the upper echelons of the legal profession and is committed to creating an effective pipeline for underrepresented attorneys to achieve success. He is a governing chair of the Asian American Bar Association of New York, and has instituted a pilot program to teach young attorneys valuable skills that law schools tend to overlook, such as effective communication and presentation. As in-house counsel for a media company with a broad audience and wide range of content, Steve understands that there is significant value in a multiplicity of backgrounds on his legal team. Even more, NBCUniversal’s business — and its legal matters — require consideration of diverse perspectives. As Steve put it, “full vision is necessary to do a good job.”

NBCUniversal’s legal department fosters legal diversity at every step of the way. It participates in community outreach programs. It has built a relationship with the local chapter of Street Law, an organization that aims to develop underprivileged high school students’ interest in the legal profession. The committee also participates in a shadowing program with Thurgood Marshall Academy, whereby students can observe in-house counsel to gain insight into the legal field. Such endeavors encourage diversity in the profession at a critically early stage.

NBCUniversal also has a strong commitment to engaging diverse attorneys to represent the company. Steve serves as co-chair of the legal department’s committee on outside counsel, which aims to afford a meaningful opportunity for qualified minority and female counsel to represent the company. The committee periodically evaluates its progress by reviewing the number of attorneys retained and the amounts spent on their services. Such metrics ensure that the company is making genuine headway in achieving its goals.

NBCUniversal’s membership in NAMWOLF is a key part of this initiative. Steve emphasized the strong working relationship between NBCUniversal and NAMWOLF as evidenced by NBCUniversal’s sponsorship of NAMWOLF events and support of its attorneys. Indeed, Steve has recommended NAMWOLF to other businesses in need of legal services and encouraged their membership.

Steve understands the challenges facing minority and women owned firms, which are often small entities competing for business with larger firms. He sees NAMWOLF as one step in creating a “level playing field where success can be achieved based on merits.” Steve is confident that the opportunity for business exists, but advises small firms to be smart when pitching to in-house counsel by demonstrating a clear understanding of the business’s current challenges and anticipating its future needs. A targeted approach that informs the prospective client of the precise value of the firm is much more likely to succeed than a generic proposal. This may be a particular subject matter expertise or it may be a strong track record of success in litigation or deal-making. Whatever it is, the firm should establish exactly what it has to offer.

Above all, Steve emphasizes that NBCUniversal is committed to inclusiveness and fostering relationships with individuals of all backgrounds and perspectives — including with its legal service providers. The values of NBCUniversal mirror NAMWOLF’s mission: excellence, equality, collaboration, commitment and passion. NBCUniversal’s diversity and inclusion updates and news can be found here.