Awards and Rankings

Ballard Spahr and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Virginia Essandoh Recognized in 'AI Visionaries' List

February 22, 2022

Ballard Spahr and the law firm’s Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Virginia G. Essandoh, have been recognized in the inaugural list of “AI Visionaries,” professionals blazing a trail for adoption of artificial intelligence in business.

Compiled by Relativity, which helps organizations manage and leverage data for actionable business purposes, the annual list includes “industry luminaries” ranging from general counsel to data governance experts to diversity professionals. The list recognizes “leaders who have taken seminal steps in advancing the use of AI, particularly in business areas that have historically been slower to adopt new technologies.”

As noted in the AI Visionaries news release, Ballard Spahr is working with Relativity on building an Unconscious Bias Detector, which utilizes AI to uncover instances of bias related to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and/or other demographic traits, in performance reviews. Ms. Essandoh is coordinating internally on the project with Mark S. Stewart, Chair of Ballard Spahr, and Dee Spagnuolo, a litigator and legal counselor who serves as Partner in Charge of the firm’s attorney recruitment, development, and advancement efforts.

"The opportunity to leverage AI to bring unconscious bias to the surface can have a significant impact on creating a more equitable, fair performance review process," Ms. Essandoh said. "Ballard Spahr knows that diversity doesn't just happen, it's the intentional outcome of commitment to equity and inclusion. I'm proud of the firm for exploring how AI can lead to proactive and purposeful action to uncover where hidden biases lie, and in turn ultimately fostering a better overall workplace."

Ms. Essandoh will discuss her experience in using AI to detect biased performance reviews and foster a more meritocratic workplace in a fireside chat with Relativity CEO Mike Gamson during an AI Visionaries recognition dinner during Legalweek, a legal industry-wide conference from March 8 to 11 in New York City.

In addition to Ms. Essandoh, other honorees on the AI Visionaries list include Ruby Zefo, Chief Privacy Officer at Uber, and Dan Cooperman, former General Counsel at Apple and Oracle. The full list of 2022 AI Visionaries is here.

For media inquiries, please contact Bill Shralow at 215.864.8195.

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