Super Lawyers Business Edition: General Mills' Rick Palmore on his commitment to diversity in the legal profession

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Photo: Steve Niedorf

Our fifth feature profile in Super Lawyers Business Edition--now available digitally, via app and in print--highlights the life and career of General Mills' Rick Palmore. Palmore, who grew up in Monroeville, Pa., received a degree in economics from Yale University before attending the University of Chicago Law School. Palmore moved to General Mills in 2007 after time at Sara Lee Corp., where he had worked his way up to general counsel. While at Sara Lee, Palmore wrote a "A Call to Action: Diversity in the Legal Profession," encouraging chief legal officers to reaffirm their commitment to diversity and build stronger relationships with firms that also value diversity.

An excerpt from the piece:

"I was in a place to potentially have an impact," Palmore says. "So I felt some responsibility to foster some change."

An outgrowth of Palmore's manifesto was the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), now a 2-year-old nonprofit whose aim is to challenge the legal profession to foster and encourage diversity. Growth is good, Palmore says, but the problem hasn't been solved. "I'm happy with the progress that LCLD has made," he says. "I'm not happy about the progress of diversity in this profession."

The lingering problem, Palmore maintains, is that companies and people have gotten used to thinking of diversity as an issue to be addressed once and then shunted aside. "It's not, especially not in today's world," he says. "It goes to the heart of the talent issue for organizations. In an increasingly diverse world, the issue is just going to get bigger and bigger. In a lot of respects, diversity is just the canary in the coal mine.

"If you're an associate at a law firm, you're interested in whether you're valued, and whether you're invested in, whether your talents are being developed and showcased," he continues. "If that's not happening, you're not happy and you become disaffected, and you either put up with it or leave. Those issues may affect diverse talent disproportionately, but they affect everybody."

Learn more about Palmore's efforts to encourage diversity in the legal field, his challenges in protecting General Mills' well-known brands (which include Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant and Cheerios), and his most recent memorable read in the full-length profile, which can be read online or here in our digital mag.