Corporate responsibility in Canada

Anti-racism at Gowling WLG

Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Chantel Moore, Eishia Hudson. The deaths of these individuals are only the latest in a long history of such tragic events; yet they have sparked an unprecedented global focus on the #BlackLivesMatter and #IndigenousLivesMatter movements – and thrown into sharp relief the experiences and social structures that have made such movements necessary. Now more than ever, we must seriously question and reevaluate the way society thinks and behaves when it comes to race. At Gowling WLG, we recognize the status quo is not good enough.

One of our firm's global core values is that we all bring something different. With approximately three thousand legal professionals and support staff around the world, each of whom brings different perspectives and experiences, diversity and inclusion are nothing short of essential to the future of our firm. This means ensuring that our people reflect the communities in which we live and work, and that Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC), in particular, are properly represented in our firm and in our profession as a whole.

Our commitment

Gowling WLG's commitment to BIPOC anti-racism work is stronger than ever. Our offices in Canada and Russia have undertaken a number of initiatives to ensure that racism does not exist in our firm and to combat it in the business world and beyond.

  • Internally, we have instituted anti-racism work in each of our local offices. Some offices have representatives of the Diversity and Inclusion local committees specifically working on anti-racism, while others have established Anti-Racism Action Committees (ARACs). We have also founded a national umbrella body, the Gowling WLG Anti-Racism Action Committee (GARAC). The overall mission statement of these committees is to combat anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism and to promote equality through project-based advocacy. Each committee will use a variety of tools such as educational initiatives, policy development and changes, targeted mentoring and more to help combat racism within and outside of Gowling WLG.
  • We are implementing our own Reconciliation Action Plan to address Canada's systemic mistreatment of Indigenous peoples. The Plan commits us to supporting reconciliation through the many ways we deliver legal services to clients – Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike – by our legal professionals and staff, and aims to ensure that everyone is culturally attuned to Indigenous-related issues, opportunities and goals.
  • Our firm is certified with the Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program, the world's only corporate responsibility assurance program for Aboriginal relations. Launched by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, the program requires that Gowling WLG undergo an external review by an Aboriginal business panel to evaluate the firm's performance in employment, community investment, business development and community engagement. The results will enable Gowling WLG to proceed to higher levels of certification and further ensure we remain an inclusive firm for Indigenous peoples, whether they are firm members or clients.
  • We are members of the U.S.-based Law Firm Anti-Racism Alliance, a coalition of over 250 law firms and organizations whose purpose is to identify and dismantle systemic racism, as well as amplify the voices of communities and individuals oppressed by racism. As a member of this Alliance, Gowling WLG is working to promote racial equity within the justice system, and ensure the law is better equipped to serve and benefit communities of colour.
  • Gowling WLG is a signatory to the BlackNorth Initiative (BNI) Law Firm Pledge, which underscores our commitment to addressing and ending anti-Black and other forms of structural racism in the legal profession. We signed the pledge in August 2020 alongside our colleagues at Blakes, BLG, Davies, Dentons, Fasken, Goodmans, McCarthy Tétrault, Osler and Torys, demonstrating our individual and collective commitment to achieving the goals set out in the Pledge and to delivering on the concrete, measurable actions that will effect meaningful change.
  • We are committed to continuing to work with BNI, the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) and other stakeholders across the legal profession to break down barriers when it comes to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of Black people in our firms.

Stronger together, we will drive progress and deliver lasting change.