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DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

OUR VISION    |    OUR STRATEGY   |   CURRENT DIVERSITY & INCLUSION INITIATIVES


OUR VISION

At Gowlings, we’re taking active steps to promote diversity and a culture of inclusion — in our firm, in our communities and across the legal profession.

Why?

  • Promoting diversity and a culture of inclusion is simply the right thing to do.
  • Diversity helps us attract and retain top legal talent. We act for diverse clients across Canada and around the world, and it’s important that our team refl ects this.
  • Diversity helps us better serve our clients. Diverse teams bring different perspectives, apply different approaches to problem-solving, and generate better, more creative solutions.

 “We believe that there is strength in diversity, and that attracting and retaining a diverse team not only creates a better, more equitable workplace, but allows us to deliver the best possible service to our clients across Canada and around the world. ”

- Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings Chair & CEO

OUR STRATEGY

We have a vision for diversity and inclusion at Gowlings — and we’ve been taking concrete steps to make it a reality:

  • In early 2014, we committed to a firm-wide Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.
  • To guide this strategy, we’ve partnered with the Canadian Institute for Diversity and Inclusion (CIDI), Canada’s leading national not-for-profit organization specializing in diversity and inclusion in Canada’s workplaces.
  • Through our partnership with the CIDI, we became one of the first law firms in Canada to conduct a firm-wide diversity and inclusion self-identification census.
  • Over 1,450 of our professionals and staff across the country voluntarily took part in the census. The CIDI also conducted focus groups and
    individual interviews to learn more about our culture and to identify specific areas of focus.
  • The results of the census, focus groups and interviews have provided us with an important benchmark in terms of understanding where we are
    now, what we’re doing well and where we need to concentrate our efforts in the future.
  • Armed with these valuable metrics, we are now finalizing our firm-wide Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, which will include clear, measurable goals to
    be achieved over the coming years.
  • We are also creating a national Diversity & Inclusion Council — comprising our CEO, National Director of Human Resources and two representatives
    from each of our offices — to guide and move the strategy forward.

CURRENT DIVERSITY & INCLUSION INITIATIVES

Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion Network (LFDIN): Gowlings is a founding member of the LFDIN, a group of Canadian law firms working together to promote diversity and encourage a culture of inclusion in our firms and the broader legal profession.

As a member of the LFDIN, we're committed to its Statement of Principles:

  • Sharing ideas for the promotion of diversity and inclusion in connection with recruitment, retention and advancement within law firms
  • Working with Legal Leaders for Diversity and other general counsel, law departments, business leaders and professional associations in their efforts to advance diversity and inclusion
  • Supporting outreach programs in law schools and the broader community
  • Promoting thought leadership and constructive dialogue on issues of diversity and inclusion
  • Evaluating our efforts

Gowlings is also involved in a number of other initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion. Some of our activities and awards in these areas include:

Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program: Gowlings is the first law firm to join the PAR program, an initiative of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and the world’s only corporate responsibility assurance program for Aboriginal relations. As a “committed level” member, Gowlings will undergo an external review by an Aboriginal business panel to evaluate the firm’s performance in employment, community investment, business development and community engagement. The results will enable Gowlings to proceed to the certification levels of bronze, silver and gold, and further solidify Gowlings as a great firm for Aboriginal peoples to work with and work for.

Justicia Project: In Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, Gowlings has played a key role in the Justicia Project, an innovative program designed to retain and advance more women in legal private practice.

The project was first introduced by the Law Society of Upper Canada in response to evidence that women leave private practice at a higher rate than men in their first 10 years of practice. As a participating firm, Gowlings is committed to achieving goals in four areas: tracking gender demographics within the firm; reviewing/introducing flexible work arrangements and parental leave policies; adopting initiatives to foster women's networking and business development expertise; and promoting leadership skills for women.

Legal Leaders for Diversity and Inclusion (LLD) Trust Fund: The LLD, a group of Canadian general counsel from coast to coast who have declared their support and commitment for creating a more inclusive legal profession, recently announced the establishment of the Legal Leaders for Diversity Trust Fund. The fund aims to advance diversity in law faculties and provide equal access to legal education by offering annual scholarships to young people with disabilities. The scholarships will provide financial assistance to students with physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments for undergraduate or graduate studies in Canadian law faculties. Gowlings is proud to be a contributor to this worthwhile cause.

Program of Legal Studies for Native People (PLSNP): Gowlings is a strong proponent of the Program of Legal Studies for Native People (PLSNP), a pre-law course offered through the University of Saskatchewan’s Native Law Centre.The eight-week program helps prepare Aboriginal students for a career in law by giving them the opportunity to study first-year property law before they enter law school. It includes writing workshops, mentorship, and a supportive and collaborative classroom environment. Aboriginal customary law and traditions are also significant features of the PLSNP.

To date, over 785 students of Aboriginal ancestry have earned law degrees after completing the PLSNP, and a remarkable 75 per cent of all Aboriginal lawyers in Canada entered the practice of law through the program. Gowlings’ Paul Seaman is a proud PLSNP alumnus. Learn more about Gowlings’ involvement with the PLSNP here.

Starbucks International Excellence in Diversity Award: In 2013, Gowlings became the first Canadian law firm to receive the Starbucks International Excellence in Diversity Award. Based on an annual diversity survey of Starbucks' legal service providers around the world, the award recognizes our extensive efforts to enhance diversity and promote inclusion.

Gowlings Realizing Opportunities for Women (GROW): Founded by Gowlings professionals in Toronto, GROW (Gowlings Realizing Opportunities for Women) promotes greater recognition and understanding of issues facing women in the workplace. Through engaging, well-attended networking events, GROW enables women to connect with mentors and build relationships that enhance their professional and personal lives.

Because I Am A Girl: On October 11, 2013 — the second annual UN International Day of the Girl — Gowlings launched a new sponsorship initiative as part of the global Because I Am a Girl movement. The firm's sponsorship involves a strong commitment to gender equality, girls' rights, and ending the cycle of poverty for girls and their families in the developing world. A key project of Plan Canada, Because I Am A Girl aims to remove the unique barriers faced by girls in the world's poorest nations by focusing on their rights to safety, education and basic nutrition. More information on this initiative is available here.


 “As one of Canada's largest law firms, we have a responsibility to help give girls around the world the same opportunities that most Canadian girls have. Becoming a part of Because I Am A Girl enables us to do that, ”

- Karyn Bradley, Partner & Chair of Because I Am A Girl Sponsorship Committee, Gowlings.

Best Employers in Canada: Since 2010, Gowlings has been ranked as one of the Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt. The annual survey, based primarily on employee feedback, recognizes organizations from across the country with the highest levels of employee engagement.


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