Committing to diversity and inclusion

By Kerry L. Simmons, Q.C. Spring 2018


This year the CBA celebrates the 25th anniversary of a ground-breaking report, Touchstones for Change: Equality, Diversity and Accountability. Chaired by Bertha Wilson, the first female justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the report presented a snapshot of the profession in 1991-1993. It offered 228 recommendations for changes in private, in-house and government workplaces, law societies, law schools, the judiciary and the CBA itself to remove barriers to gender equality.

The CBA has since strengthened its commitment to equality in every part of its governance, member services and programs. Members created the Aboriginal Lawyers Forum, the sections on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification, Women Lawyers, Young Lawyers, French-speaking Members, and equality committees and executive positions.

We have measured diversity and partnered with others to better respond to the experiences of lawyers who reflect the diversity of our society.

Twenty-five years after Touchstones, we have made real progress but there is much more to do. The CBA is committed to making improvements. We are creating sections for those who come through the National Committee on Accreditation, and the Women Lawyers Forum is launching a national compensation survey to study unequal pay. In Ontario, we supported the recommendations of the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group. These need to be implemented.

I invite our membership to use this anniversary as a catalyst for action. Please reread the report. Renew your commitment to equality. Learn more about the experiences of others, demand inclusion, and be part of the change. A truly inclusive profession is one in which our clients interact with legal teams, judges and juries who reflect the diversity of Canada. Let’s prove that diversity and inclusion is strength.

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