“Inequity and exclusion is a bad business decision. A bad moral decision. A bad spiritual decision. A bad economic decision. It’s imbecilic by every conceivable metric.”
Susan Toth, Lawyer and Partner at Polishuk, Camman & Steele, is being honoured this year with the OBA Award for Excellence in the Promotion of Women's Equality for her significant contributions to the promotion of equality rights in Canadian society. Find out what inspires her in the battle for equality.
- Who or what inspires you most in your career?
So many women! My grandmother, mother and sister to start. Proud Latina women.
But also every client who has had the courage to come to me and say “enough."
And every woman who has ever persisted when they were told to be silent, who has ever been called nasty, who has ever been told to be less angry… Every woman who has rejected trans-exclusionary feminism, every woman who has fought against heteronormative boxes and hegemonic masculinity… They all inspire me.
Also, J. Lo. Because… J. Lo.
- What challenges or motivates you most about efforts to advance gender equality in the legal profession?
My rage. My anger that something so obvious, the intrinsic worth of all women, whether Black, Indigenous or racialized, whether trans or nonconforming, whether lesbian or bisexual, is still questioned, individually, systemically, culturally and economically. Inequity and exclusion is a bad business decision. A bad moral decision. A bad spiritual decision. A bad economic decision. It’s imbecilic by every conceivable metric.
- Apart from encyclopedic knowledge of the law, is there a single trait that you think all effective lawyers share?
They realize that being effective doesn’t mean being being unscrupulous and dastardly.
- What’s the best bit of advice you ever received
Maybe not advice, but a motto. Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda once said, “Podrán cortar todas las flores, pero no podrán detener la primavera.” Or: you can cut all the flowers, but you cannot stop the spring.
I’ve always reminded myself, this system, this world, may try to cut us down, but ultimately, they cannot stop the change we will bring.