Education: JD, The Ohio State University College of Law; BA, Clark University
Company Name: Dickinson Wright PLLC
Company CEO: Michael C. Hammer
Company Headquarters Location: Troy, Michigan
Number of Employees: 860 (approx. 475 attorneys)
Your Location (if different from above): Columbus, Ohio
Words you live by: I do what I can, from where I am, with what I have.
Who is your personal hero? My father, Herbert Pierre-Louis, Sr.
What book are you reading? Tigerland by William Heywood
What was your first job: Dishwasher at a restaurant
Favorite charity: My church; Walk with a Doc
Interests: Bicycling (soon to be motorcycling)
Family: I’m married to Jerzell L. Pierre-Louis; together, we have a son & two daughters.
It’s Up to Us
Today’s leaders have a responsibility to support the next generation of black business leaders. Leaders must execute this responsibility with the specific intent to create the most diverse cross-section of industry participation. That means equipping black professionals, future corporate executives and entrepreneurs alike, with the tools and resources necessary to build, sustain, and replicate a successful pipeline for generations.
Leaders must provide mentorship, sponsorship, and tailored training on a personal level, and contemporaneously, push public policymakers to eliminate systematic barriers. Leaders must reach out to the younger generation’s aspiring leaders and help them navigate the business and cultural norms that may now seem natural to us, and advocate for their career advancement. Finally, today’s leaders must ensure the next generation receives ongoing leadership training and the resources necessary for relationship building (e.g., attending relevant conferences, affinity group support, etc.).
Furthermore, business leadership and public policy advocacy are not mutually exclusive. We saw in real time how administrators of the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program initially excluded many black-owned businesses, which exposed the larger, systematic issue that hinders black business growth—the lack of access to capital. This is unacceptable. If we are serious about black business growth, business leaders and legislative oversight committees must demand that our financial institutions and government agencies responsible for small business lending change policies and practices that limit capital access. That change can only occur by diversifying boards and leadership to include individuals who are familiar with the issues and who care enough to address them.
I care about these issues, not only because they demonstrate how connected we are, but also because when executed, they have proven results. I have benefited from mentors throughout my career who took a personal interest in my success. I do the same for others. More and more, my clients demand that their representation reflect their own diversity values and require measurable results. They should continue to do so because it’s good for all of us.
When the business community leads, changes happen at every level. The next generation of black business leaders is on its way. It is up to us to provide them a path, an opportunity, the resources, and the guidance they need to move the next level of success.