Human Rights and Diversity Policy

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Overview

All lawyers and paralegals play a vital role in Accelerating Culture Shift, one of 5 strategies adopted by the Law Society, to address the barriers faced by racialized licensees.  

To advance this strategy, the Law Society requires:

a licensee representative of each legal workplace of at least 10 licensees in Ontario to develop, implement and maintain a human rights/diversity policy for their legal workplace addressing at the very least fair recruitment, retention and advancement, which will be available to members of the professions and the public upon request (Recommendation 3(2) in the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group’s Final Report)

The Law Society will ask licensees to report on this in their 2017 Annual Report.

Does this requirement apply to you?

This requirement applies to all licensees in legal workplaces in Ontario with 10 or more licensees. A licensee is anyone licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada to practise law or provide legal services, including licensees who are not currently practising law or providing legal services.

This requirement varies depending on the size and nature of your legal workplace.

To help determine which category you fall into see our FAQs.

My legal workplace has 10 or more licensees

If your legal workplace has 10 or more licensees, your workplace must have a human rights and diversity policy that addresses, at the very least, fair recruitment, retention and advancement.

The licensees in your workplace must appoint a representative (who is a licensee) to report in their Annual Report on the development, implementation and maintenance of that policy. The other licensees are required to identify that appointed licensee in their annual report.

The Law Society has developed resources  to assist you in developing a policy for your workplace that meets this requirement.

My legal workplace has 10 or more licensees, and my employer is a non-licensee 

If your legal workplace has 10 or more licensees, and you are employed by a non-licensee (for example you are in-house counsel or a government employee); you should make inquiries to determine if your workplace has a Human Rights/Diversity Policy.

  1. If your workplace has a policy, use your best judgment to decide whether it meets the Law Society’s requirements.  If it does, this will satisfy the obligation and you will report this in your Annual Report.
  2. If your workplace does not have a policy that meets the Law Society’s requirements, you must have a policy in respect of your individual obligations that addresses at least fair recruitment, retention and advancement in the legal workplace. You can use the resources provided by the Law Society to develop a policy.

    In your 2017 Annual Report, you will be asked to acknowledge your individual obligation to have a Human Rights/Diversity Policy that is implemented and maintained, and that addresses fair recruitment, retention and advancement in the legal workplace.

My legal workplace has 9 or fewer licensees

If your legal workplace has 9 or fewer licensees, you are encouraged to review the Law Society’s resources  and develop a human rights and diversity policy. However, this requirement does not apply to you and you will not be asked to report in your Annual Report.

Creating a Human Rights/Diversity Policy

Below are resources to assist you in creating a Human Rights/Diversity policy. We have provided sample policies on various related topics.

We encourage you to review all the materials and sample policies.

At the very least, if this requirement applies to you, you must have a policy similar to the Sample Policy on Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment, Retention and Advancement

Sample-Policy
  • Definitions
  • Legislative Framework for Human Rights/Diversity Policies (HTML) (PDF)
  • Key Concepts in Drafting Human Rights/Diversity Policies (HTML) (PDF)
  • Addressing Recruitment, Retention and Advancement in Human Rights/Diversity Policies (HTML) (PDF)
  • Sample Policies (PDF of all Policies)
    1. Policy on Human Rights Code-Based Discrimination & Harassment (Word)
    2. Workplace Harassment Policy Including Sexual Harassment (Word)
    3. Accommodation Policy and Procedure (Word)
    4. Integrated Accessibility Standards Policy under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act  (Word)
    5. Workplace Violence Policy (Word)
    6. Policy on Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (Word