X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
A record number of amicus briefs were filed in the recent U.S. Supreme Court case over affirmative action at the University of Michigan. But a few briefs particularly swayed the Court’s majority, including one signed by 65 companies that made the corporate argument for diversity. Jon Botsford, the general counsel at Steelcase, Inc., played a key role on the brief. Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Steelcase is the world’s largest manufacturer of office furniture. Fortune has ranked it as one of the country’s most admired companies for its social responsibility. And for more than a decade the company has had an African American Diversity Network to conduct training sessions and dispense advice. Steelcase’s president and CEO, James Hackett, is also a longtime associate of former University of Michigan president Lee Bollinger. Another Michigan-based business, General Motors Corp., filed an amicus brief backing affirmative action when the case was still at the trial level. But Bollinger, Hackett, and Botsford decided to enlist more corporate support. They drew up a document with the pro bono help of attorneys at Chicago-based Jenner & Block, where Botsford once worked as an associate. Then they went hunting for signatories. Botsford, Steelcase’s GC since 1999, says he believes in the cause. “There is a social aspect to [diversity], but we think it also makes good business sense,” he says. “We are the most global company in our industry, and [it] can help us compete on a global level.” Not everyone supported Steelcase’s crusade. “We attracted attention from white supremacy groups, or other groups on the opposite end of the spectrum on this issue,” Botsford says. “[They] threatened boycotts against the companies that signed on to the briefs.” Fortunately for Steelcase and its cosigners, nothing came of these threats. And the slings were made easier to bear when the companies ended up on the winning side.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.

 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.