Many businesses struggle to effect significant, successful, and long-term change in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Lawyers gathered at a Gowling WLG webinar to explore a variety of works they are carrying out in various legal teams to push the limits of DEI in a business setting.
During the webinar titled "The Future of DEI: How Far Have We Come and What Comes Next?" Shereen Samuels, the Gowlings DEI leader, chaired the panel and asked participants to summarise their company's DEI journey up to the present. Riccardo D'Angelo, legal lead of Accenture Canada, a multinational professional services organisation, stated that when we initially began thinking about DEI, it revolved around how we might reallocate part of our outside counsel expenditure into minority or female law firms, but we became a little smarter and chose to pivot to impact transformation at all of our external counsel providers.
Over the following seven years, the Accenture team assigned every one of its firms to keep tabs on the staffing on their documents so that they were able to evaluate the details to evaluate firms and set targets. Accenture's legal department recently developed the Outside Counsel Diversity Awards to recognize firms that actively promote and advance diversity inside the company and in the legal profession. D'Angelo stated that Accenture aspires to become the most inclusive and diverse organisation in the world, with a culture of equality.
Accenture has set lofty aims to achieve gender balance by 2025 and ambitions to promote ethnic diversity inside the organisation. These objectives have been made public in order to increase accountability. The organisation is also attempting to establish a talent pipeline in order to enhance diversity at all dimensions, which involves programs, internships, and partnerships. The team at BASF Canada is committed to creating a workforce that embodies various communities where the global chemical business operates. They set lofty goals for diversity throughout the business and leadership many years ago. Marian Van Hoek, a general counsel as well as chief compliance officer of BASF Canada, stated that they assess targets on a regular basis to ensure that they are on track while also challenging themselves. If the target appears to be too simple, they consider modifying it.
Van Hoek stated that there is nevertheless much space for development in terms of inclusion, thus the team aims to build an inclusive culture and inclusive behaviour at all levels of the business. They are also working to ensure that corporate figureheads own the resources and support tools they need to lead inclusively. With business and sales ambitions, every BASF leader also has a DEI target. Van Hoek stated that by keeping their leaders accountable, they are sincerely hoping that their inclusive culture will persist, and that there is always space for development. Because inclusion is a core component of the CIBC culture, the group adopts a comprehensive approach, concentrating on three specific areas: learning inclusive talent, planning and control to guarantee the labour pool and leadership reflect the customers and community groups represented by the financial institution, and eliminating hindrances to create the conditions in which anyone is able reach their full potential.
According to Andrea Nalyzyty, Senior vice president, chief compliance officer, and international regulatory affairs at CIBC, if they are not practising intentional inclusivity, they are possibly being unintentionally exclusionary. Nalyzyty went on to say that they examine it through the standpoint of the employees, the procurement department, and the people they serve in the community. The bank's goal is to remove obstacles to financial inclusion and increase access to opportunity for customers. CIBC has publicly announced workforce representation goals, and the team measures success against these goals. Additionally, they offer practical training for staff members, and the financial institution has established an accessible centre of excellence inside the customer experience team. The panellists all agreed that cultivating a culture that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusiveness is not only the ethical thing to do, but also makes business sense. Van Hoek has stated that DEI is an essential business facilitator and that BASF is heavily reliant on innovation, and that they cannot be inventive until they have diversified teams collaborating on their goods.
Samuels questioned the panellists where they saw DEI going in their companies and what they wanted from their service suppliers. D'Angelo wishes to see legal firm affiliates as well as other external providers of services, rise to the occasion and outperform Accenture's expectations.
D'Angelo stated that they will look at their law companies to expand the number of diverse applicants in their workforce and what they're doing within their business at all levels. Van Hoek went on to say that DEI is neither a fad or a fleeting corporate strategy. It's here to stick and will continue to impact how we do work and conduct ourselves. It is critical in the legal function to position ourselves to deliver the most logical and thoughtful counsel to our business counterparts.