More than two dozen LCLD Fellows gathered at the Oakland, CA headquarters of The Clorox Company for a Learning Experience hosted by LCLD Board Chair Laura Stein, Clorox’s Executive Vice President & General Counsel.
In a welcome message delivered on video, CEO Benno Dorer gave the Fellows an overview of Clorox corporate values and inclusion efforts. His inspirational message, “Do the Right Thing,” was echoed by many other speakers throughout the day.
That included Dawn Willoughby, Chief Operating Officer, who recapped the company’s history from its founding in 1913 as the Electro-Alkaline Company, which built the first commercial-scale bleach factory in the US. Its original bleach product, Clorox, was named for two of its chemical ingredients, chlorine and sodium hydroxide. By formulating its bleach for consumer use and marketing successfully to housewives (below), the company made Clorox a household name and ultimately its corporate identity.
More than a century later, The Clorox Company has grown into a multinational corporation with a globally marketed roster of brands beyond its namesake bleach and cleaning products such as SOS, Pine-Sol, Formula 409, and Tilex. These include Burts Bees, Glad trash and food storage products, Kingsford charcoal, KC Masterpiece, Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressings, and a number of recently acquired and developed wellness products.
Willoughby later fielded questions from the Fellows on topics such as working with outside counsel, participating on corporate boards, working internally with legal departments, and monitoring diversity metrics for outside suppliers.
The next session featured Miriam Lewis, Head of Inclusion & Diversity, and Ivor Nanton, VP of Internal Audit. They discussed the company’s various inclusion initiatives, including its resource groups and global mentoring program. Fellows pressed them on topics ranging from imposter syndrome and unconscious bias, to diversity initiatives that were unsuccessful, and why.
Another morning session focused on the company’s decision-making process, especially as it relates to consumer products.
Rhonda Ramlo, Clorox’s VP and General Manager of New Business Development, presented the company’s emerging wellness platform. In describing the recent acquisitions of nutritional supplements Renew Life and Nutranext, she gave the Fellows insight into lessons learned while developing new business, and went on to answer in-depth questions from Fellows about the company’s acquisitions and brand marketing strategies.
An afternoon session led by Michael Ott, VP of Research and Development for the Global Cleaning Division and International, covered Clorox’s approach to innovation on all its products.
Another highlight of the day came after lunch, when Laura Stein joined LCLD President Robert Grey onstage for "A Day in the Life of a GC." Stein went well beyond that topic, sharing wisdom from her life and career and describing the leaders and mentors she credits for her own success.
She also talked about the characteristics she looks for in potential leaders, and described the special qualities of an inclusive leader. During the Q&A, Fellows asked Stein dozens of questions, including on lessons learned and about how leaders can mobilize change in an entrenched corporate culture.
The next session allowed the Fellows to focus on their own professional development. Linda Rendle, Executive Vice President of Cleaning & Strategy, led the Fellows through an exercise on leadership and influencing with integrity. Fellows were divided into groups and given an exercise in creativity and making an effective pitch, competing against other groups for the most effective strategy.
The day concluded with a panel of attorneys from the Clorox legal department who discussed the structure of their department and answered questions.
The evening before the Learning Experience, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, an LCLD Member law firm, hosted a welcome dinner at a restaurant overlooking San Francisco Bay. Clorox and Orrick also offered Fellows the chance to stay overnight and attend the annual Outside Lands Music Festival; more than half the attendees took them up on the offer.
LCLD is grateful to hosts Laura Stein, Dianna Bravo, and LCLD Fellows on the Clorox legal team, including Mark Danis (2016) and Svetlana Walker (2017), for coordinating the event.
Thanks also to Catherine McClusky Zinn and Amy Huang of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Honored as one of LCLD’s Most Active Law Firms in 2016, Orrick is led by Chairman and CEO Mitchell Zuklie, an LCLD Member since 2010.