Understanding the new Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) obligations: Are you ready?

Posted: 09/25/2017

interior-equity-diversity-inclusion-ENDo you or your firm have policies in place to address racism, unconscious bias and discrimination in the legal professions?

Extensive research and consultation conducted by the Law Society’s Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group show that racialized lawyers and paralegals face long-standing and significant challenges at all stages of their careers.

As a member of the lawyer or paralegal profession, you have a vital role to play in addressing barriers faced by your colleagues because of racism and discrimination.

Starting this year, lawyers and paralegals will be required to:

  • Adopt a statement of principles (mandatory)
  • Create, implement and review a Human Rights/Diversity Policy (mandatory for workplaces of 10 or more licensees)

You will be asked to report on the creation and implementation of these requirements in your 2017 Annual Report.

The new requirements are part of Recommendation # 3 of the working group’s report, designed to accelerate a culture shift. Other report recommendations fall under four other strategies: measuring progress, educating for change, implementing support and leading by example.

What These First Two Requirements Mean

Statement of Principles: You will need to create and abide by an individual Statement of Principles that acknowledges your obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in your behavior towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public.

Helpful information and resources are available on the Law Society website to guide you.

Human Rights and Diversity Policy: If your legal workplace has 10 licensees or more, you, or a licensee representative from your workplace, will need to develop, implement and maintain a Human Rights and Diversity Policy that addresses issues, at minimum, of fair recruitment, retention and advancement.

Visit the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion section of the Law Society website to see if this applies to you. If it does, sample policies and other resources are available to guide you.

Optional Survey

The Law Society is conducting an online inclusion survey. The survey builds on a 2013 survey which  the Law Society conducted as part of its research in forming its five EDI strategies. Participation is optional, and the deadline to participate is October 2, 2017.