An Interview with Aisha christian
We recently conducted the following interview with Aisha:
ACC Greater New York: As the first General Counsel of Rent the Runway, you get to establish the precedents with respect to the selection of external counsel -- the ways in which external counsel staff Rent the Runway projects, recruitment and hiring within your legal department. Tell us about a few of your priorities.
AISHA: As General Counsel, one of my priorities is establishing relationships with outside counsel, that not only have the requisite expertise, but also understand Rent the Runway's unique culture and business model that fosters entrepreneurship. I also plan to select counsel that demonstrate a commitment to diversity. I have found that engaging outside counsel that do not take into account diversity or a company's culture, is not a good use of limited resources.
ACC Greater New York: As an alumna of Harvard Law School and Davis Polk & Wardwell, and having earned a coveted Southern District of New York clerkship, do you feel as though you have nonetheless faced special challenges along the way due to your race and gender? If so, how has that impacted your support of Diversity & Inclusion initiatives?
AISHA: I am sure almost everyone can think of a situation in which they were not treated fairly or given a fair shot, whether it's related to race, gender or other reason. Pre-conceived assumptions about people are still a part of our society. I have always felt that if you are in a position to make a positive impact with respect to diversity, you do so, because it is simply the right thing to do and a way to combat the still present stereotypes. For me personally and professionally, I consider mentoring and sponsoring women and people of color my responsibility and it has been a long-standing commitment.
ACC GREATER NEW YORK: What do you see as the "business case" for a General Counsel to factor Diversity and Inclusion initiatives into her or his hiring (internally and externally), retention and promotion strategies?
AISHA: Rent the Runway places a huge importance on female entrepreneurship and empowerment. Given this commitment, we are always looking to partner with equally diversity-minded outside counsel and vendors. But if you do not work in an organization that otherwise has diversity at its core, I think a General Counsel’s primary focus has to be finding the best attorneys that support the organization and reflect the company’s values – but there is no reason why we cannot accomplish those goals at the same time while ensuring diversity in our organizations. We can find diversity in the legal marketplace if we decide to make it a focus. I believe there is credibility in diversity and we should trust diversity – and that is the “business case”.
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