Canadian Lawyer InHouse

August/September 2021

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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20 COVER STORY Pon: At TDSB, we are deeply involved in working on issues of equity. It is one of our key pillars and we actually do it. It is not just a statement or commitment. We are held to account for it by members of the public, our own school communities and staff, and we still have a long way to go. Our human rights office released an annual report and did some analysis and set up an action plan on where we need to improve, especially in anti-Black racism. We also act as critical friends to other departments, so if we are observing some- thing that maybe could be handled a little differently, from a different lens, we provide that advice as well. In about a year or so, we are going to renew or refresh our RFP for external legal services. The last time we renewed it in 2017, I included criteria for examples of the firms' commitment to diversi- ty, equity and inclusion. So, I am going to re-examine how we are going to do that again. I want to modify a bit so that we can try to capture a wider field of law firms who are also engaging in this type of work. Ellis: One specific tactical thing that I did in my department was to engage our human resources team to do an objective appraisal of where we stood as a team with respect to overall compensation, just to give me a very unbiased view of whether they thought that we were achieving the right level of equity within my team from a compensation perspective. I think it was important to have that objective perspective from an outside group coming in and looking at things to really test to me as to where folks were slotted — not just from a cost perspective, but also in terms of leveling career progression. I think the thing that we have gotten the most traction from is the working team that is focused on diversity, and specifically giving them an opportunity to ask for resources that are needed, across the whole spectrum on the recruitment side, and making sure that that they have an active voice. INHOUSE: What is your strategy for other ESG matters? Bosma: ESG is an area that is very near and dear to my heart. It is such a joy to be able to work for an organization where you see values being espoused and pursued that that align with your own values. We have already talked about diversity and inclusion. HSBC is very focused on sustainable finance, which I think is an enormous opportunity for the world to really make a change in terms of climate change. So, my teams are having the really interesting job of being at the forefront of developing sustainable finance products, and that is something that we are very proud of, and interested in, and looking forward to continuing that journey. Petrie: NB Power has several components of ESG strategy already in place, particularly on the environmental side, of course, given that we are a utility power company, but it is still very much an evolving process for us. So, our board of directors currently is working towards a more formal position on ESG. Ellis: This is front and center for me. Function- ally, I break it down into each of the different areas. A big part of what is active for us right now is that we have just accepted a series of targets that were slated to end with our 2020 measurements. So, my objective right now is to refresh those and examine what are the things in 2021 that we are most focused on. Are those old metrics still relevant? Are there new ones? I think on the environmental side, for us, its greenhouse gas emission, so I am very pleased that we are the first of our competitors to actually set a target that is objective, and it is measurable by third parties. Diversity and inclusion, of course. On gover- nance, a lot of it is around the board and making ESG part of their own mandate and review, so we made sure that we have that level of strategic oversight from them on ESG matters. We have our own set of metrics for each of those three things, but we are again at that stage of now setting plans for the next five to ten years, so it is an exciting time for us. Maharaj: As well as diversity and inclusion, the biggest issue I would look at is social. What you see in the corporate world is a permission that has permeated through the

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