[Editor's note: This story was originally published on January 25, 2018, and updated on December 5, 2018 to reflect Kim Rivera's new role at HP.]
HP’s stance on diversity is clear: It’s critical to the future competitiveness of industries and society.
Kim Rivera, who recently became HP Inc.’s President of Strategy and Business Management, is all in for this mission. After growing up in Puerto Rico and Paraguay and moving to North Carolina for university, Rivera has been an advocate for equality throughout her career in corporate law at DaVita Healthcare Partners, Clorox and Rockwell Automation. As a member of HP’s inaugural Global Diversity Advisory Board — made up of HP executives as well as global diversity thought leaders — she’s helping to shape and lead HP’s drive to reflect the diversity of our world.
Before her current post, Rivera served as chief legal officer at HP. In the legal profession, progress has been slow: Women make up just over 20 percent of partners at U.S. law firms, and minorities trail even further, at 7.3 percent. In 2016, Rivera was one of three Fortune 500 general counsels to call on law firms to scrutinize their diversity demographics and inclusion policies. Last year, to give that call teeth, Rivera implemented a diversity “holdback” mandate for outside counsel doing work for HP: She is cutting 10 percent of fees to firms that don’t meet HP’s diversity standards.
Rivera spoke with the Garage from her office in Palo Alto, Calif.
How did you end up as a lawyer?
I don’t have any lawyers in my family, but during college, I did a lot of public-policy advocacy and nonprofit work. Then I took a year off to be a social worker in Washington, D.C. There I had a great boss and mentor who pulled me aside one day and told me I wasn’t being smart about how I was using my talents and energies. She said I should go to law school.
What made your mentor think the law was a better fit?
She said, “It’s great to want to connect with people individually, but you can do more good in the world and have greater impact if you pursue a career that gives you a bigger voice, a broader platform and deeper systemic influence. Not everyone has the talent or the fortitude or the determination to do it, but you do.”