D&I IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION
D&I has been a hot topic in the Canadian legal profession lately.
In 2011, a group of Canadian General Counsel from coast
to coast established Legal Leaders for Diversity (LLD), a working
group with the objective to encourage greater D&I within
their own businesses and co-operate to foster these same values
throughout the legal profession and the larger Canadian business
Additionally, in the past year, we have seen major companies
begin to request diversity demographics from law firms they do
business with. It is expected that this trend will continue as more
organizations use their financial influence to encourage D&I
amongst their suppliers.
Nearly two years ago, 16 Canadian law firms joined forces to
demonstrate their commitment to improving D&I within their
organizations by creating the Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion
Network (LFDIN). The LFDIN has been growing ever since.
Since 2013, CIDI has helped over a dozen organizations measure
the demographics of their workforces, including several law firms.
One law firm, Cassels Brock, shared the benefits they derived from
Cassels Brock is a Canadian law firm with over 500 employees
in two offices – Toronto and Vancouver. In 2014, they utilized
CIDI’s Diversity Census Tool to measure their workforce.
Conducting a diversity census involves asking all employees to participate
in a voluntary self-identification census questionnaire. Cassels
Brock, along with many other firms, also chose to complete an inclusion
survey at the same time as the census. The inclusion survey asks
questions similar to those you might see on an employee engagement
survey – but they go deeper into specifics about how employees view
the management of diversity and the inclusiveness of the organization.
In 2013, Cassels Brock’s executive committee adopted a diversity
policy for the firm and established a formal diversity committee.
Conducting an employee demographic census and inclusion survey
was one of the committee’s first major initiatives.
“The history around this type of employee demographic measurement
in Canada is completely different than in the United
States,” said Kristin Taylor, partner and chair of Cassels Brock’s
diversity committee. “In Canada there has been reluctance to even
ask the questions. Internally, we had to assuage people’s fears about
why the data was being collected, where it would be stored and
what we were going to do with it.”
Even though the census and survey were voluntary, Cassels
Brock was delighted to achieve an almost 82 per cent response
rate from their workforce.
“The level of participation has been extremely helpful in how we view
the results,” said Taylor. “The information is meaningful, which allows
us to establish legitimacy and credibility in what we are trying to do.”
HRPATODAY.CA ❚ MARCH/APRIL 2015 ❚ 19