An Unwavering Commitment to Equality, Diversity & Inclusiveness


An Unwavering Commitment to Equality, Diversity & Inclusiveness

Promoting equality, diversity and inclusiveness in the legal profession and the justice system is one of the eight tenets of the CBABC. This commitment draws members to the CBABC as they see that the association can and does undertake activities of education and advocacy to change the culture and reality of the profession. The work required is never-ending, and so is the commitment of our volunteers and staff.

CBABC is proud to be a place to bring together lawyers, students and judges who share these values. To have conversations about experiences, celebrate successes, and explore next steps. To build awareness and education through engaging professional development programs and speakers. To advocate for change within the profession, our courts, and in justice and legal policy. We are united by a desire to achieve equality, respect, and inclusiveness.

For thirty years I worked in several law firms in different roles and witnessed the experience of people from equality-seeking groups. I witnessed many “firsts.” The first female lawyer. The first Indigenous lawyer, the first LGBTQ2SI+ lawyer, the first lawyer of color. The first female managing partner. And then I saw “the next.” Those who came first cleared the path for someone to follow, extended a hand, pulled them forward. Examples of the “firsts” and the “nexts” from other workplaces were shared, talked about, and celebrated. Established leadership came to embrace diversity and inclusion and systemic change began.

CBABC established what are now the Women Lawyers Forum (“WLF”), the Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Community (“SOGIC”), the Aboriginal Lawyers Forum (“ALF”) to promote, retain, celebrate and advocate for its members. Our Equality & Diversity Committee continues to identify best practices & resources and areas for change. CBABC’s Board of Directors now maintains strong diversity in its overall composition, and while there will still be some of the “firsts” among the future presidents, there are also several “nexts.”

There is absolutely no doubt that more needs to be done to achieve equality and ensure workplaces and career advancement are free from discrimination. The examples are too many. Racialized lawyers are over-represented among those offered low or unpaid articles. Pay equity among genders doesn’t exist. Indigenous lawyers leave private practice. So do women lawyers. The list goes on.

Being part of an association that values diversity means that you find other like-minded people to work with to build inclusiveness. We can harness the power of the association to bring awareness to issues, to connect people to each other, to learn, and to change.

CBABC members have recommended and created several resources for members and their workplaces to achieve these goals. Building a Reconciliation Response Plan and using the Measuring Diversity Toolkit can help workplaces assess and move forward with new initiatives. We’ve prepared resources to help members use Gender-inclusive Pronouns in court and at work. Our Programs & Events this year have included the three-part LGBTQ2SI+ Webinar Series, sessions on disrupting and dismantling systemic racism, activating the Calls for Justice from Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report on the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. CBABC continues to partner with the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers — BC on the Supporting Relationships Series: Indigenous and Pan-Asian Communities and partnered with the South Asian Bar Association — BC for Diversity on Boards, Tribunals, and Crown Agencies.

This spring, attend Diversity on the Bench to learn about the judicial appointment process. Hear from Justice Bastarache on the effects of sexual harassment on women in the RCMP. Check out President Brad Regehr’s podcasts on the Calls to Action. Connect with WLF, SOGIC, and ALF. The opportunities to learn keep coming. To contribute to the CBABC’s work in any of these areas, volunteer with your colleagues. Together, we will make the legal profession the diverse and inclusive place it can be.