14 Sep 2021

Kirkland veteran launches DEI-focused consultancy

Jon Henes will lead a team of 15 professionals to advise CEOs, C-suites and law firms on business strategy with diversity and inclusion in mind

Jon Henes

Longtime Kirkland & Ellis restructuring partner Jon Henes has launched C Street Advisory Group, a diversity and inclusion-focused strategic consultancy. 

The New York-based firm will advise companies, C-suites and boards of directors on corporate governance, communication and crisis advisory, talent search advisory, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) among other issues. 

C Street’s goal is to ‘ensure alignment of the expectations of key stakeholders and calls for diversity, equity, and inclusion’, the firm said in a statement. 

The firm is launching with an investment from Antara Capital, a Blackstone-backed multi-billion dollar investment fund that focuses on distressed debt and special purpose acquisition vehicles. 

Prior to launching C Street, Henes spent two decades at Kirkland and served as the finance chair for Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign and the co-finance chair of former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire’s New York City mayoral campaign.

“We are living in the era of reputation, with young workers focusing on social justice, diversity and making an impact,” Henes said. “Organisations and their leaders are keenly aware of this generational shift and are determining the best strategies to position their organisations to both do well and do good.”

He added: “Each organisation is unique, with its own culture, opportunities and needs. C Street listens and learns, and then provides unparalleled advice and services to steer organisations through the most complex issues of our time.”

The team at C Street also includes Alvin Tillery Jr, a professor of political science at Northwestern University, Beth Kojima, former head of investor relations and strategy at TPG-Axon Capital, and Melissa Prober, a litigator and former in-house counsel at the Clinton Foundation.  

Tillery will serve as head of DEI, while Kojima and Prober will lead the talent advisory and crisis advisory teams respectively. Prober will also take on the role of general counsel. 

A spokesperson for C Street confirmed the firm’s headcount currently sits at 15 with immediate plans to expand. 

The launch comes amid increased attention on DEI in the legal community, with a number of large corporates putting diversity measures in place for their panel law firms with penalties if they are not met. 

In January Coca-Cola unveiled a series of diversity targets for its US advisers, with those failing to meet them facing a 30% reduction in their fees until they achieve compliance, while in May Nokia announced an equity, inclusion and diversity scorecard system to assess its six panel firms.

But law firms have also been putting their own measures in place. In July, Jenner & Block launched a new culture risk and sensitive investigations practice focused on helping companies navigate cultural and compliance issues amid a rise in demand for advice related to unhealthy workplace cultures, particularly over matters concerning gender and race. The practice is co-chaired by partners Christine Braamskamp in London and Anne Cortina Perry in New York. 

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