Issues & Projects
The CBA is constantly working on an always expanding number of issues and projects related to equality. Here is a list of current Equality initiatives:
RARE Finds Project
Member Self- Identification
Equality Leader Coffeehouse
Enhanced Staff Support
YouTube Diversity Videos
A Co-ordinated Path Forward
EI – The Equality Committee made submissions to Canada’s Federal Government and successfully advocated for institution of EI (unemployment insurance) maternity and parental benefits for self-employed individuals. The CBA’s Equality Committee, Women Lawyers Forum and Young Lawyers are collaborating on renewed advocacy to help make the EI system fairer. See CBA submission: Improving EI Benefits by Enhancing Flexibility in the System (November 25, 2011).
RARE Finds Project – Visit the RARE Finds website for more information.
Measuring Diversity – The increasing diversity of the Canadian labour force and Canadian law school graduates means that many law firm managers have incorporated diversity and inclusion initiatives in their talent management processes. Measurement is a key component of many successful diversity initiatives and consequently many law firms have begun, or contemplated, assessing their firm’s current diversity performance.
Member Self-Identification – With guidance from the Equality Committee, the CBA has instituted self-identification questions to all members on annual membership renewals, which will afford us a much better understanding of the demographic make-up of our membership. Knowing the composition of our current membership will help ensure that we remain relevant and fulfill the needs of our members. Over time, the data will also allow us to measure the success at our efforts at diversity and inclusion. With similar initiatives occurring across the country at various law societies, we will be able to compare our membership to that of the legal profession as a whole.
Equality Leader Coffeehouse – The first of these meetings took place at the 2010 Canadian Legal Conference in Niagara. Equality Leader Coffeehouse meetings will now occur annually, and they will bring together chairs of CBA Sections, Conferences, and Committees whose mandates include equality and diversity issues. As of 2011, CBA members with an interest in equality issues but no formal title in relation to CBA’s work are now welcome to attend these coffeehouses. The intention of these meetings is to broaden the conversation. With more discussion, we can better plan and coordinate equality initiatives while involving more people who are interested in our work.
Enhanced Staff Support – CBA has two Law Reform and Equality lawyers on staff devoting time to Equality and diversity issues. Staff lawyers will continue to engage in ongoing consultations with member firms, connect with other organizations in the equality community in the US and Canada, as well conducting ongoing environmental scanning to ensure that CBA is on the cutting edge of equality, diversity and inclusion issues.
Disability Publications – A publication giving practical guidance on providing the best service to clients with disabilities was published in the September 2010 issue of National thanks to collaboration with Elder Law and the Law for the Future Foundation’s grant.(page 44 of National magazine in English and page 18 of the magazine in French - view the digital issue here)
YouTube Diversity Videos – Offering tips about how to best effect inclusion of lawyers from marginalized have been launched. The videos are posted on the CBA’s website as well as on the free internet video service YouTUBE. They have been linked to supporting web content on the CBA Equality main page and feature leading CBA members Esi Codjoe (Ontario’s Equal Opportunity Committee Chair), Aimee Craft (Aboriginal Law Section Executive member) and Mike Law (former SOGIC Chair, Equality Committee member and this year’s SOGIC Hero award winner).
A Co-ordinated Path Forward The Equality Committee will continue in the coming year to gather information about how to best support our member firms’ diversity and inclusion efforts, build knowledge about the legal profession, and develop specialized member services through innovative approaches, with an emphasis on our online presence. In our work, we are relying on a co-ordinated path forward, developed from the CBA’s Strategic Plan, that was adopted by CBA’s Board of Directors in August 2010.