Over the past several months, I have been working closely with OBA staff to develop and deliver productive support to members and to build our collective momentum for advancing gender equality within the profession. Now, at the halfway point of my term as OBA President, I find myself contemplating the enormity – and importance – of this mandate.
As I’ve been meeting and talking with a wide range of professionals about the ways in which gender roles and thinking play out in our workplaces and in our society, the one thing that has consistently stood out to me is the great opportunity that lawyers have to lead the change.
In all of the conversations – at OBA events, at law schools, within the justice sector and beyond, with the media, and in one-on-one conversations with OBA members -- I am struck by the overwhelming interest and the commitment across our profession – and by all genders – to consider the underlying environmental, attitudinal and societal factors that have perpetuated gendered thinking over the years and to course correct.
While our profession may be steeped in tradition, we are also, I believe, the gatekeepers to a better way forward. As lawyers, we are specially trained with the skills to assess fairness, to reason logically, and to find and implement solutions. As an organization, the OBA’s role is attuned to offer practical and productive ways for helping lawyers participate fully in their profession.
From engaging in discussions on the issue of gender wage gaps, to education and enlightenment through our CPD programming, to hosting a series of Solution Circles, to celebrating the champions of gender equality in our profession, I see OBA lawyers tackling the issues head-on by creating awareness, facilitating opportunities for discussion and working hard to find and implement practical, real-time solutions.
Where the issues of equality may have at one time been viewed as unpopular, or perhaps simply too big to solve, I now only see opportunity and progress. I see lawyers – professionals of all genders and backgrounds – leaning in, rolling up their sleeves, and doing the work it takes to ensure our profession is its very best.
I am proud of the collective work we are doing to advance gender equality in our profession, and I see a profession that will one day serve as a model for equality, inclusion and success. We will, no doubt, keep building our momentum.