When Atlanta’s iconic real estate company looked to hire its first in-house lawyer, it hired a woman of South-Asian descent, making Ashoo Sharma the Vice President and General Counsel of Harry Norman, REALTORS®. Recently honored and recognized as Diversity Champion in the Corpoate Counsel Awards by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Ashoo Sharma is one of the leading influences in Atlanta’s progression of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Reporting directly to Jenni Bonura, President and CEO of Harry Norman, REALTORS®, Sharma oversees all legal matters and leads policy changes for consumer protection and professional services that become adopted industrywide. While managing real estate safety challenges during the pandemic, she together with Bonura took on improving the company’s diversity.
Sharma puts herself at the front lines of making sure people have equality in housing, a person’s biggest life investment and step towards generational wealth. In 2020, Governor Kemp appointed her to the Advisory Board of Georgia’s Commission on Equal Opportunity to help safeguard Georgians from housing discrimination. Her contribution with improving Georgia’s fair housing law (not amended since its enactment in 1988) to align with federal law earned her the role of Vice-Chair for the Commission in 2021.
Sharma also serves as founding member of the HomeServices Foundation for Racial Equity, which was launched a little over a year go to increase home ownership and generational wealth for people of color through education, investing in people, financial assistance, and community reinvestment. Through internal and external donations, this foundation will have community impact for generations to come.
Additionally, Sharma is a lifetime mentor to young professionals from diverse backgrounds to support them in their blossoming career through various organizations, such as the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association, South Asian Bar Association of Georgia, and the Georgia Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel where she has served as the Board’s Vice-Chair for professional development of in-house attorneys.
She also serves as a voice of authority for existing professionals through frequent speaking engagements, panel discussions, and published works. In 2022, Sharma was invited by King and Spalding law firm to speak to industry leaders on a panel with Equifax and Atlanta Hawks about increasing diversity and eliminating bias in the legal profession. In 2022, she was also the only real estate company legal leader invited by Coca-Cola’s General Counsel to share ideas about improving diversity across many different industries in Atlanta:
“The power of WE. ‘I can do things that you cannot. You can do things that I cannot. Together we can do great things’. Mother Teresa. This week I was privileged to be invited to The Coca-Cola Company Legal Diversity Link event bringing chief company counsels to connect with minority-and-women-owned law firms giving them exposure to potential in-house business and relationships. Be intentional and authentic with DEI and outcome will be positive and sustainable,” – Ashoo Sharma
Her contributions throughout 2022 build upon significant progress made throughout her career. Sharma has been a featured Panelist in the ‘The Women in Law Summit Series’ on the topic of Driving Diversity in Law and Leadership Virtual Summit, where she shared insights for legal professionals to become active participants in driving progressive change and equality in the professional community. Additionally, Sharma has shared insights and experiences with ‘Women Who Lead’ for the ‘Conversations with Women Making an Impact’ series.