LaTanya Langley brought her son Dennis into this world five weeks premature. They both spent two weeks in the hospital, and mother and son were home barely a week when American Healthcare Leader interviewed LaTanya. At a time when most new mothers are still assessing just how much life has changed in such a short period of time, the chief legal officer (CLO) and corporate secretary at Edgewell Personal Care was willing to find time to speak with AHLand explain how she’s had to learn to dial back the pace with which she tackles life, work, and, well, everything.
You’re not misreading. Giving an interview a week out of the hospital with a five-week premature son asleep at home is Langley’s version of dialing it back. LaTanya Langley is a force.
Langley was driven long before she graduated at the top of her class from UConn Law. An early career with a large law firm led to prestigious in-house roles at Diageo and BIC prior joining Edgewell in February 2022.
Before her son’s premature arrival, Langley had already faced down both the bizarre and the heartbreaking. Maybe that’s why she’s now the executive sponsor of Edgewell’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) program, as well as its purpose, values, and behaviors team. She works to enact change for those who have felt like outsiders for too long—in other words, those who felt as Langley did early in her career.
The Conversation That Changed Everything
LaTanya Langley emerged from law school ready to dominate. Her first stop was big Law. There was just one giant, glaring issue: everything.
“I just wasn’t prepared for the culture I was walking into,” the CLO says. “I had to navigate an environment neither diverse nor inclusive.” Langley wasn’t invited to regular partner lunches; she wasn’t given the cutting-edge assignments like her mostly white, male peers; and she didn’t feel welcome at the social events it seemed most everyone else attended. She spent the bulk of her time navigating this culture alone. When she finally asked a female colleague why she wasn’t being accepted, the response cut her deeply.
“Her response was that the other partners and associates didn’t ‘get’ me,” Langley recalls. “Honestly, that broke me.” Fortunately, that wasn’t the only conversation about her career Langley would have. After she moved in-house, LaTanyaLangley engaged in a discussion with a more senior female leader and received advice that would provide the foundation for the rest of her career.
“I remember telling her about how isolating my experience was and how different I felt, and I remember this woman said, ‘Own it.’ That was the moment I realized that I was my own barrier. I was carrying this burden that I could overcome just by being myself. My differences were my strengths, not my weakness.”
Learning All Over Again
It would not be the last time LaTanya Langley would have to overcome seemingly unsurmountable obstacles. In 2018, Langley spent three weeks in her home country. She spent the remainder of her trip traveling through the Middle East, India, Africa, Latin America, and Europe. She loved it, but she had the feeling some kind of toll was being taken on her body. And she was right.
One day, LaTanya Langley woke up and couldn’t move. She was rushed to Greenwich Hospital, where she would stay for a month before being diagnosed with Gullian-Barre syndrome, an incredibly rare disorder that causes the body’s immune system to wage war on the nervous system. One day Langley was living her life (she had run five miles just the day before), and the next day she couldn’t blink.
“The recovery was long and grueling,” the CLO says. “I had to learn to do everything again. I couldn’t talk, and that’s when I really developed a renewed sense of the importance of listening. Every moment matters, and you have to be completely engaged in the present moment and not concerned about what’s next.”
Living the Values
LaTanya Langley’s journey to recovery could fill a book. But she would rather focus on her return to work. The experience provided her with renewed empathy and compassion—qualities that now are embedded in her leadership, legal practice, and her goals for expanding Edgewell’s already strong internal culture.
The CLO knows she is a unique position to focus on and to challenge issues affecting women and other minorities in the workplace. It’s not a responsibility she takes lightly.
“I seek every opportunity to share that, as a woman, I’m sharing the perspectives of people like me when I’m speaking with other leadership,” Langley explains. “I’m able to observe policies, protocols, and trainings through a discerning lens that can help remove traditional barriers that women face at work and home.”
Langley’s colleagues recognize the unique value she brings and admire her approach to DEI. “Working with LaTanya, we see how she leverages her experience of being different to create inclusive places within the legal profession,” says Megan McCurdy, partner at Stinson LLP. “She has done this with the in-house team she assembled and with the outside counsel with whom she and her team work, while never compromising on her commitment to excellence.”
According to the CLO, Edgewell is already well on its way to removing the barriers that so often impede women and people of color. CEO Rod Little has joined CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, a CEO-driven business committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The organization has been proactive about creating programming and bringing in speakers to talk about assertiveness and self-advocacy.
Edgewell also has taken a proactive stance on the real-life effects of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, making it clear the company will always protect the full scope of reproductive care for its women and parents—the exact type of care that was so useful with the birth of Langley’s first son.
No part of LaTanya Langley’s journey has been simple. But at this moment, Langley knows who she is, who she is fighting for, and how to love and appreciate every moment. There’s no doubt that Dennis will learn one lesson very early in his own life: own it.