Achieving gender balance

At Stikeman Elliott, we take great pride in the success of our female colleagues. Women lawyers play an integral role at the firm and are well established in their practices. The women who work here are respected for their leadership and management skills, both at the firm and in their profession. We are all committed to fostering the continued success of women as role models at all levels, so much so that this is one of our Partnership Board’s priorities.

The firm is committed to creating the best possible environment for women based on four pillars: retention of women lawyers, advancement to partnership, business development, and leadership positions.

The best approach: make it personal

At Stikeman Elliott, we enjoy a long and proud tradition of grassroots innovation as opposed to top-down management. Although senior leadership support is key, we recognize that advancement happens at the personal level – through sponsorship, stretch work assignments, business development successes and profile-building opportunities.

The most effective way to drive real change is for every firm member, men and women alike, to take individual responsibility for creating an environment in which more women can succeed.

As part of this overall philosophy of personal ambition and contribution, Stikeman Elliott has developed many initiatives that each member of the firm is encouraged to contribute to:

  • Unconscious bias training: regular training and scenario discussions are available to help people become aware of and mitigate any hidden gender bias that impacts their decisions.
  • Work allocation tools: we have developed resources to help lawyers understand and really get to know and appreciate who they are working with, where work is assigned and ways they can diversify their teams.
  • Office locations: office locations are carefully reviewed and altered to ensure lawyers and students have access to a broad range of firm members, work opportunities, mentors, and sponsors over the course of their careers.
  • Tailored new-parent resources: we help new parents make smooth transitions, especially during the critical period around the return from parental leave. These efforts include regular communication and outreach during leave as well as personalized transition coaching. Firm members and practice group leaders also take personal initiative to help ensure colleagues are actively reintegrated into client teams and current matters upon their return.
  • Women in the Lead: this grassroots program launched by Stikeman Elliott women for Stikeman Elliott women aims to retain, develop and promote our talented female lawyers, supporting them through four concrete actions: inspire (at conferences), encourage (with senior partners’ collaboration), empower (by professional coaching), and connect (through networking and profile building).
  • Leadership opportunities: women are encouraged to hone their leadership skills by participating in committees, joining boards, taking on mentorship roles, and seeking out business development opportunities. In addition to raising awareness of profile-building opportunities, we offer training in critical skills such as communication, networking and team leadership.
  • Networking opportunities: Stikeman Elliott offices regularly host special events where female partners and senior female associates meet women from the business community, offering a unique networking opportunity.
  • Community building: initiatives such as our women lawyer lunch discussions are examples of ways in which our individual talents and potential drive our collective success.

Testing and improving our programs

Candid feedback is regularly solicited from firm members, and those comments are in turn used to assess the effectiveness of our programs. We also strive to learn from the best practices of outside organizations that are working to make the legal profession as a whole more supportive of women’s advancement.