Diversity and inclusion

The provision of an inclusive working environment is fundamental to our vision and a key ingredient to our business success. When every employee  feels valued for their contribution and know they can progress on the basis of merit and skill we are able to leverage the full potential of our workforce.

Diversity is not just about valuing differences based on visible characteristics. Factors such as communication style, career path, life experience, educational background and parental status influence personal perspectives and make our people react and think differently; approach challenges and solve problems differently; make suggestions and decisions differently; and see different opportunities.

To us diversity is fundamentally about diversity of thought and we believe that superior business performance requires tapping into these unique perspectives.

We will achieve this by:

  • creating a culture of accountability for diversity and inclusion by establishing measurable goals and objectives
  • fostering inclusive leadership where diversity and inclusion is part of our decisions;
  • promoting the value of difference and our commitment to an inclusive culture internally;
  • drive the attraction, selection, retention, greater inclusion and career advancement of diverse talent; and
  • reflect to our clients and our future employees how critical diversity and inclusion is to our core values and business strategy.

We are committed to equal opportunities in employment and a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment. This means that all job applicants, employees and partners receive equal treatment and access to opportunities regardless of sex, gender identity and gender expression, race, ethnic or national origins, marital status, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief.

Our diversity and inclusion policy applies to all our employees and partners. It covers all aspects of employment including recruitment and selection, training and development, performance evaluations, compensation and promotion, terms and conditions of employment and termination.

Featured diversity initiatives

  • Gender: 30% target– In 2014 we set ourselves a goal to reach 30% representation of women across our partnership and on all our leadership committees in 2020. We have already met this target on our Management Committee and have reached 24% representation of women across the partnership. We continue to work towards our goal with the commitment support and engagement of our leadership.
  • PRIDE (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies) Network – Launched in 2012, our PRIDE Network is open to all partners and employees. The Network provides educational seminars for members and clients and leads our involvement in LGBT community projects and student outreach programs. The Network is also actively involved in Pride at Work and Out on Bay Street to name just a few. We have hosted numerous seminars, including on the role of allies in the LGBT community, and understanding the rights and obligations of same sex couples and parents. The Network has been actively involved in an anti-bullying campaign in schools across the country as well as other important community-based initiatives. In November 2012, we were awarded the Phenicia Commitment Award by the Quebec Gay Chamber of Commerce for our outstanding commitment in the LGBTA business community for 2012.
  • Other initiatives include celebrating the Day of Pink, IDAHOT and a new campaign in 2016 called ‘Showing pride” where we invited people from all our offices to wear pride rainbow shoelaces in creative ways to show their support of LGBT inclusion.  
  • Women in Business Series – Since 2008, we have organized the Women in Business series of luncheon meetings. In addition to providing clients with networking opportunities, the program is tailored to a female professional and business audience. The luncheons reach a broad spectrum of clients and all our Canadian offices host the series. Recent speakers include CEOs of public and private companies, members of boards of directors, authors and media personalities.
  • Disability confidence – We launched our disability confidence campaign, Lets get the best, in 2016.  People are affected by disability in many different ways and our campaign invites everyone to  work together to break down some communication barriers, challenge a few assumptions and become more confident about disability.  You can watch a series of video clips and download useful resources from our disability confidence page.
  • In 2015 we also recruited our first participant to the Working start programme. This initiatives aims to provide  meaningful work opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Inclusive leadership – in 2016 we launched our Inclusive leadership programme. Our goal is to ensure that at least 50% of all our partners and employees will have completed this programme by the end of the first year and the remainder by the end of 2017. This initiative aligns with our strategy to create and even more inclusive culture.
    • Diversity in recruitment – We have launched  a voluntary national student survey to help inform our diversity strategy, assess the impact of our student diversity programmes and promote equality of opportunity for everyone. Currently we will only collect information on race and racialized communities. In the future we will expand this survey to other areas of diversity.

Selected community programs and sponsorships

  • Association of Women Lawyers – We are a proud participant of the AWL Mentoring Circle in Calgary.
  • Black Law Students’ Association of Canada – We have been the proud sponsor of the BLSAC’s annual conference.
  • Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University Scholarship - The Bora Laskin Faculty of Law was established to focus on access to justice by preparing graduates to practice in smaller centers, servicing those clients who are currently under-serviced by the legal profession.  The school has a mandate to focus its admission criteria on students, including those from First Nations, who have not traditionally formed part of law schools’ student demographic.  Our donation will establish a named scholarship to be awarded to a student from a historically disadvantaged group on the basis of academic achievement and financial need,  and also support students’ participation in the Wilson Moot, including attendance at our offices for practice sessions and coaching.
    • Canadian Board Diversity Council (CBDC) and Diversity 50 – Our Chairman Norman Steinberg is one of 10 Chief Executive Officers of prominent Canadian companies and firms who is a member of the CBDC steering committee for the Diversity 50 project. The CBDC seeks to improve the diversity of boards of companies and agencies through increased board representation of women, members of visible minority groups, aboriginal peoples and members of the LGBT community. The Diversity 50 initiative solicits applications from members of these groups who seek directorships on Canadian boards, and from these applications each year creates a database of 50 highly qualified, non-traditional candidates for such positions.
  • Canadian General Counsel Awards – We are a sponsor of a special award given to in-house counsel who have promoted diversity and pro bono efforts.
  • Canadian Lawyers Abroad Mentorship Program – We have sponsored an outreach program for aboriginal youth in the Canadian north through this Program.

    • Canadian Business SenseAbility – Our chief diversity and inclusion officer, Sally Gomery, is a member of Canadian Business SenseAbility’s board of directors. Established in 2014, this national not-for-profit organization’s goal is to help companies accelerate success through the talents of people with disabilities. With the other members of the board of directors, Sally brings private sector leadership experience, a deep understanding of the business case for employing persons with disabilities, and a proven ability to help translate theory into practice. Canadian Business SenseAbility was created to help companies access the value of including people with disabilities in their workforces. With a board of directors from the private sector, SenseAbility is run by business for business.
    • 30% Club Canada – We are a proud member of the 30% Club Canada. The raison d’être of the 30% Club Canada is to support achieving 30% female participation on Canadian boards, and to foster agreement among business leaders of the importance of gender diversity.
  • Chambers Women in Law Awards Latin America – We were recognized for the best gender initiative in Venezuela at the 2012 awards.
  • Egale Canada – We have been a dedicated sponsor of Egale Canada.
  • Famous Five Mentorship Program – The Famous Five Foundation celebrates the democratic achievements of women who were responsible for securing Canadian women’s right to vote and to run for and serve in public office at all levels of government. Since 2011, we have sponsored a bursary through the Foundation so that young women can advance their interest and aptitude for leadership in public affairs.
  • Foundation of the Women’s Centre of Montréal – Participated in helping a non-profit organization which works to improve the lives of women through providing professional services, education and counselling.
  • G(irls) 20 Summit – We have been a global legal sponsor of this summit since its inception in 2010. The summit, held each year in conjunction with the G20 conference, brings together young women from G20 countries to develop their leadership skills.
  • GRIS-Montréal – Through our LGBTA Network, we have supported GRIS-Montréal (Groupe de Recherche et d’Intervention Sociale), a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure a better awareness of the homosexual and bisexual reality in the school system in order to make it easier for gays, lesbians and bisexuals to integrate into society.
  • IBM’s Teaching Respect in Canadian Schools – In 2012, we were one of only two law firms in Canada taking part nationally in the anti-bullying campaign. IBM, together with corporate partners such as Norton Rose Fulbright Canada, go into the local school systems to lead discussions about preventing bullying, the importance of respect and acceptance of diversity. IBM’s Teaching Respect in Canadian Schools initiative received the 2013 IBM Global Volunteer Excellence Award from IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. We were one of only five corporate partners in Canada taking part nationally in the anti-bullying campaign.
    • Justicia and the Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion Network. These groups explore alternative working arrangements, the re-integration of women who have left private practice and the means by which firms can promote diversity and inclusion.
  • Legal Leaders for Diversity (LLD) – We have been involved in events involving Legal Leaders for Diversity, a group of general counsel in Canada promoting diversity of legal teams in Canadian law firms. We have hosted discussions by LLD representatives on the business case for diversity, and participated in 2012 in the first LLD summit.
  • LFDIN – We are a founding member and signatory of the Statement of Principles of the Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion Network (LFDIN). We have agreed to work with fifteen other Canadian law firms to promote diversity and encourage a culture of inclusion not only inside the firms, but in the broader legal profession as well.
  • Maison du Parc – We are sponsoring the annual concert for World AIDS day in support of the Maison du Parc, a hospice centre for victims of HIV/AIDS in Montréal.
  • Out on Bay Street – We are a corporate sponsor of Out on Bay Street, which provides resources and opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally (LGBTQA) students, young professionals and pro-LGBTQA organizations across Canada. Our professionals are also working to establish an equivalent organization in Ottawa and other Canadian cities.
  • Out on the Shelf – We offer pro bono services to this Guelph-based library and resource centre for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirited, intersex, queer and questioning communities and allies.
  • Pride at Work Canada – We are a corporate sponsor of Pride at Work Canada, an organization dedicated to improving the climate of inclusiveness for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified (LGBT) employees in the workplace.
  • Quebec Gay Chamber of Commerce – We have been a corporate sponsor of the Quebec Gay Chamber of Commerce since 2012.
    • Recognition of International Women’s Day and National Aboriginals Day – In recognition of International Women’s Day, each year we make a donation to women’s shelters in cities across Canada and South America. Similarly, we have celebrated National Aboriginals Day by contributing to the Aboriginal Law Student Scholarship Trust.
  • South Asian Bar Association of Toronto – We sponsored the Practitioner of the Year award at the SABA 2013 gala.
  • Success Beyond Limits Program – This program offers career counselling and mentorship to high-potential high school students from economically depressed backgrounds, as well as similar programs and activities for elementary school children.
  • University of Toronto’s Internationally Trained Lawyers’ Program – Through this Program, we have been involved in programs to integrate and support foreign-trained lawyers and legal professionals.
  • Women’s Executive Network – We are a member of the Women’s Executive Network, which provides programs such a National Breakfast Series, Women’s Executive Forum professional development workshops, Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards and Summit, WXN Wisdom, Peer Mentoring, e-Mentoring and special events.
  • Women of Colour Corporate Counsel – In 2014 we hosted this event with BMO, exploring the challenges faced by women of colour who are corporate counsel.