It's said that Mike Harrington, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Eli Lilly, once ruled Asia.
That is, in the 1990s LCLD Member Mike Harrington (above, front row, in orange tie) was personally responsible for Eli Lilly’s legal operations from Pakistan to China to Indonesia to New Zealand—all from an office in downtown Singapore.
That experience “completely transformed my view of diversity,” he says. “Singapore was this ancient crossroads of trade and a cultural melting pot, where we could sit in our apartment and hear 40 languages being spoken all around us. It was incredible.”
“We’re in a global war for the very finest people we can find. We don’t care if they’re black, or white, or Chinese, or Middle Eastern. If they’re the best at what they do, we want them working here.”
And when he moved his family to New Zealand, they experienced what it was like to be in the minority, as the few Americans among native Kiwis including the indigenous Maori. “There were huge cultural differences there. The sense of isolation we felt gave me a new appreciation for the importance of inclusion.”
It also taught him the value of a diverse workforce to Eli Lilly. In an increasingly globalized world, “we’re in a global war for the very finest people we can find. We don’t care if they’re black, or white, or Chinese, or Middle Eastern. If they’re the best at what they do, we want them working here.”
Speaking of diverse talent, Mike is enthusiastic about all of LCLD's initiatives and especially the Fellows Program, which Lilly has participated in every year since it began.
“Our Lilly Fellows are already excellent attorneys, but we wanted to give them broader exposure to the profession, building their networks and getting mentoring opportunities. For them to spend a year with a group focused on their personal development is terrific. It gives them an opportunity to grow.”
That, turns out, is one of the secrets Mike Harrington learned from his decade studying the legal systems, and diverse cultures, of Asia. “You always know you’re on the right career path,” he says, “if your rate of growth continues to rise.”
If you'd like to nominate an LCLD Action Figure—a Member who embodies the mission of the organization by consistently turning words into action—please contact Don Belt.