A diverse and inclusive workplace that encourages and supports differences and promotes innovative perspectives reflects both the core values of our firm and the communities in which we live and do business. Our firm-wide programs, leadership commitment and vision all focus on maintaining and expanding the diversity of our firm’s lawyers and staff and creating an environment in which everyone can flourish.
Harper Grey has always been enriched by its diversity and clearly recognized the benefits of building a genuinely inclusive culture. Our strength is in the uniquely valuable characteristics, experiences and perspectives of our people. It is precisely those differences – the diversity of thought and people – that drive originality and innovation and enable us to better serve our clients.
British Columbia is the most ethnically diverse province in Canada and Vancouver continues to excel in terms of multiculturalism and diversity. As the face of Canada and the world changes and becomes more culturally diverse, Harper Grey will continue to change with it and be enriched by that diversity. We want our firm to reflect the diversity of the communities surrounding us and are relentless in our pursuit of building on our culture of inclusivity.
Our goal has been to create a workplace that reflects a cultural and generational mosaic. You need only walk our halls to appreciate how diverse we have become. Not only do we speak many different languages we understand and embrace the many different cultures those languages represent.
Our culture is founded on the value that a range of perspectives, ideas and experiences provides. We are committed to continually cultivating an inclusive work environment that celebrates our differences whether grounded in gender, race, sexual orientation, language, socioeconomic status, cultural background, religion, age or disability.
Our Diversity & Inclusion Committee focuses on Harper Grey’s firm-wide diversity and inclusiveness strategies and supporting initiatives to identify, enhance and implement best practices in all areas of diversity and inclusion.
Diversity & Inclusion Committee
Gender Balance and Women’s Initiatives
We are committed to building and leveraging an inclusive culture in everything we do. For many years, we were proud to lead the way when it came to inclusion of women in the workplace. And we continue to lead because we know that only by example and innovation can we effect change.
Our commitment to advancing women through our ranks began early — only 26 years after women received the right to vote in Canada. Miss Winifred Langfield, secretary to Mr. Craig, became qualified as a barrister and solicitor and immediately joined “Craig and Tysoe”, as our firm was then known, becoming a partner in 1945.
In keeping with this pioneer spirit, more than 25 years ago Harper Grey created a written maternity and parental leave policy for its lawyers that provided top-up for women lawyers during their leaves at a time when such policies were notably absent. We were also a leader in developing flexible work and part time policies and have had flexible work arrangements for partners and associates for nearly 25 years.
Since early days, Harper Grey has attracted, retained and promoted talented female lawyers at rates exceeding the averages for large law firms. Our firm has had at least 20% female partners for the last 25 years, and over time the percentage has steadily risen. Most recently, in 2018 the firm admitted three female partners, all of whom were raising young families. We attribute our success in retaining and advancing women in our firm to our early recognition of the need to accommodate family responsibilities. As a result of this and other supports, Harper Grey now enjoys a female partnership ratio of over 28%. In addition, 41% of our associates and 75% of our students are women.
We are deeply committed to the retention and advancement of women lawyers at all levels. This commitment is reflected in the number of women that hold leadership positions in our firm as practice group chairs and co-chairs, committee chairs and members of our management committee. The women in our firm are respected as leaders and role models and contribute to the ongoing professional development and success of other women lawyers within the firm.
A number of our women lawyers have been recognized as leaders in the legal profession. One of our female partners is a Queen’s Counsel, three have been recipients of Lexpert 40 Under 40 awards, one the recipient of a Lexpert Women Leaders Zenith award, and many are recognized by peer-review related publications including Best Lawyers®, Benchmark Canada® and Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory®.
Our commitment to the advancement of women also extends outside of the firm. Many of our female lawyers hold roles on various boards and associations and are involved with industry events that support women such as Women in Cancer Crusade, Dress for Success and WOWriders. Many of our female partners are mentors through the CBA’s Women’s Lawyers Forum.
Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
30% Club Canada
On March 22, 2019, Harper Grey become a member of the 30% Club Canada as affirmation of its commitment to promote the retention and advancement of women in business leadership.
The 30% Club is an organization with the aim of achieving a better gender balance at the board level and senior management level in businesses across the country. They are working to build a strong foundation of business leaders who are committed to meaningful, sustainable gender balance in business leadership. The goal of the organization is for 30% of board seats and C-Suites to be held by women in Canada by 2022.
As a member of the 30% Club, Harper Grey is publicly indicating our support for the notion that it is good business practice to have women holding 30% of the C-Suite and board seats in Canada and that we, as key members of Canada’s business community, share the aspiration to collectively reach this goal by the end of 2022.
We are an active member of the Justicia Project. The Justicia Project was developed by the Law Society of Upper Canada in response to concerns relating to the retention and advancement of women lawyers in private practice. Implemented in British Columbia in 2012, the Project is a voluntary program bringing together law firms committed to sharing best practices and developing resources and programs to support women lawyers.
As a participating firm, Harper Grey has committed to supporting the Project and achieving goals in the following four areas:
- Tracking gender demographics
- Reviewing flexible work arrangements and parental leave policies
- Adopting initiatives to foster women’s networking and business development
- Promoting leadership skills for women
Learn more about the Justicia Project here.
Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion Network
On March 19, 2015 Harper Grey joined the Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion Network (LFDIN), as affirmation of its commitment to promote diversity and encourage a culture of inclusion.
The LFDIN is a group of Vancouver law firms who have agreed to work together to promote diversity and inclusion in our firms and the broader legal profession. We meet regularly to share best practices to support all forms of diversity and inclusion.
As a participating member, Harper Grey signed the LFDIN Statement of Principles. The member law firms:
- share ideas for the promotion of diversity and inclusion in connection with recruitment, retention and advancement within law firms;
- work with Legal Leaders for Diversity and other general counsel, law departments, business leaders and professional associations in their efforts to advance diversity and inclusion;
- support outreach programs in law schools and broader community;
- promote thought leadership and constructive dialogue on issues of diversity;
- consistently evaluate our efforts.
“The LFDIN reflects the core values of our firm,” says Richard Bereti, Managing Partner, “and we quickly seized the opportunity to participate. Through our involvement, we will seek to advance greater diversity and inclusion both within our firm and throughout the legal profession. This objective is in response to one of our profession’s central challenges. Because the profession has come out in force, great advancement is assured.”
Read the Statement of Principles here.
Our lawyers are active members in a number of organizations involved in actively promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and broader community, such as:
- BC Ismaili Conciliation and Arbitration Board
- Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (British Columbia)
- Ismaili Business and Professional Association (BC IBPA)
- Pacific Community Resource Society (PCRS)
- Rotary Club of Vancouver Sunrise
- South Asian Bar Association of British Columbia (SABA BC)
- West Coast LEAF
- Women in Insurance Canada, BC Chapter (WICC BC)
Firm Culture and Events Blog
Committed to Community
Harper Grey is committed to making our community a better place to live. This stems from our desire to not only be good corporate citizens but neighbours, coaches, parents, teachers and leaders engaged in genuinely helping others.
We have been an integral part of the community since we opened our doors and our hearts in 1907 and have long been associated with a wide range of philanthropic activity. We take pride in the lasting difference we have made in the lives and communities where we live and practice law through our long history of community service, charitable giving and sponsorships. And we are grateful for the opportunities to give back to the communities that support our firm. As a community-based law firm giving back is ingrained in our culture. We believe that giving more than money creates a greater impact. While we certainly do support many fundraising initiatives, money is not the only way to be classified as philanthropic; donating time and skills are just as valuable, if not more.
Our lawyers and staff are encouraged to volunteer both their time and knowledge and engage in community organizations and events that they believe in and are passionate about.
Major Community and Civic Support
While we have a strong presence in our communities, we often work quietly behind the scenes without fanfare. We support important changes in our communities through donating our skills and knowledge as members of boards or in other leadership positions to charitable, cultural and civic organizations.
Legal Community and Education Support
We also contribute to the legal community. Our lawyers have a tradition of holding posts in the CBA and supporting other continuing legal education organizations. We provide legal education support including scholarship programs and donations to advance the study of law and several of our lawyers give their time to teach at various law schools.
Sponsorships & Charitable Giving
Through a variety of sponsorships and charitable gifts, Harper Grey continues to make a difference across a platform of organizations that support many services including healthcare, the arts, social service, the environment, sports and children. We give our philanthropy to a host of worthy organizations each year, some of which include:
- Canadian Bar Association – Various Subsections
- Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia
- Pacific Business and Law Institute
- Trial Lawyers Society of British Columbia
- University of British Columbia Faculty of Law
- University of Victoria Faculty of Law
- University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine
- Access Pro Bono
- Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of BC
- British Columbia Dental Association
- British Columbia Environmental Industry Association
- British Columbia Safety Authority
- British Columbia Technology Industry Association
- British Columbia Women’s Health Foundation
- Canadian Insurance Claims Managers Association
- Canadian Medical Protective Association
- Credit Union Insurance Services Association
- Insurance Brokers Association of British Columbia
- Insurance Institute of British Columbia
- Manufactured Home Park Owners Alliance of BC
- Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia
- Powell River Brain Injury Society
- WICC – Women in Insurance Cancer Crusade
- Aquiform Golf Tournament – benefitting BC Children’s Hospital
- British Columbia Cancer Foundation – Toothfairy Gala Fundraiser
- British Columbia Children’s Hospital Foundation – Jeans Day
- British Columbia Guide Dog’s Trivia Night – benefitting BC and Alberta Guide Dogs
- Canadian Blood Services Blood Drive
- CHUBB United Way Campaign
- CKNW Kids’ Fund – Pink Shirt Day
- Covenant House
- Dress for Success Clothing Drive – empowering women to achieve economic independence
- Empty Stocking Fund
- First United Church Mission
- Gary Dorman Memorial Golf Tournament Fundraiser
- Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society – Summer and Winter food drives
- Leave out Violence (LOVE) BC – benefitting underprivileged youth
- Lookout Emergency Aid Society
- Lookout Society’s H’arts for the Homeless – benefitting homeless people in BC
- North Shore Stroke Recovery Centre
- One-to-One Literacy – Spelling Bee Fundraiswer
- Pacific Assistance Dog Society
- Ride to Conquer Cancer
- Save a Smile
- SOGICBC – Pride Parade Float
- UBC “Start an Evolution” Fundraiser
- Union Gospel Mission
- Vancouver Yule Duel – benefitting downtown eastside hospice
- Westcoast Leaf Equality Breakfast Fundraiser
- Doctors Without Borders
- Red Cross International
- Rotary International
Pro Bono Work and Legal Organizations
- Access Pro Bono
- Canadian Bar Association’s “Law Week”
- Law Students’ Legal Advice Program
- Missing Women Commission of Inquiry
- We Need Legal Aid
We regret that we are not able to consider unsolicited requests for donations or sponsorships.
Firm Culture and Events Blog
The privilege of practicing law carries with it a duty to act in the public interest. – Justice J.C. Major
Pro bono matters and it matters to us.
Consistent with our long term commitment to community service, Harper Grey has a coordinated, professional and meaningful pro bono program. Stemming from pro bono publico, “for the public good”, the purpose of pro bono service within our firm is two-fold. To serve people or organizations in need and facilitate access to justice that they might otherwise be denied. And to use our skills and time to preserve, protect and defend the rule of law. While pro bono work gives our people the chance to share their knowledge and experience it also gives us an opportunity to mentor and develop the lawyering skills of our junior lawyers and students. Our focus is always on achieving the same level of excellence in our pro bono work as in everything else we do.
We are proud of the thousands of hours our lawyers and students have devoted to pro bono legal service and are grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the community around us in such a positive and rewarding way.
Our dedicated Pro Bono Committee is responsible for establishing policy and coordinating opportunities. They are committed to facilitating and encouraging pro bono work by our lawyers, both for individuals and for non-profit organizations.
Pro Bono Committee
Harper Grey lawyers volunteer their time and expertise to many causes and organizations. Our lawyers regularly perform pro bono work on behalf of marginalized groups. We provided pro bono counsel for autistic children seeking funded treatment in a case that went to the Supreme Court of Canada, resulting in a number of legislative changes. We also provided pro bono counsel at the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry, representing the interests of aboriginal women.
Our work is not limited to high profile matters. A number of our lawyers donate their time on an ongoing basis to several free legal clinics in and around Vancouver. These legal clinics provide assistance to people to whom fair and equal access to our justice system would otherwise be unavailable.
In recent years, our lawyers have provided pro bono counsel to a family seeking coverage for treatments related to their daughter’s disability; taken pro bono cases for families to assist them with property related disputes and human rights matters; done volunteer work with Focus Humanitarian Assistance; helped organize a public pro bono event; and participated in fundraising events for the Western Canadian Pediatric AIDS Society.
Following are a few examples of Harper Grey’s pro bono contributions to our communities:
Law Students Advice Program (LSLAP)
One of our longest community relationships has been with LSLAP, a non-profit, student-run organization providing legal advice to low-income individuals. Our associates supervise the Britannia Pro Bono Clinic run by LSLAP, attending the evening clinic to provide support to law students and clients. We have also recently donated funds to support LSLAP’s operational infrastructure. Volunteering at the clinic gives us the opportunity to help the community, and to help future lawyers hone their skills. We believe in LSLAP and will continue our long-standing support of access to justice and law student initiatives. Learn more about LSLAP here.
Access Pro Bono
Many of our lawyers volunteer with the Access Pro Bono Society of BC. The Society promotes access to justice in BC by providing and fostering quality pro bono legal services for people and non-profit organizations of limited means. Through APB, our lawyers provide free legal assistance in criminal, family, immigration and civil matters for those who cannot afford legal services.
Since 2014, Harper Grey has been the Title Sponsor of Access Pro Bono’s annual Going Public event event which facilitates access to justice for low- and modest-income people by engaging volunteer lawyers in advising pre-scheduled and drop-in clients on various legal issues. The outdoor “legal advice-a-thon” held in various communities over several days calls significant media attention to the legal community’s efforts to increase access to justice, while serving the public and raising much-needed funds for BC’s pro bono programs. Learn more about Access Pro Bono here.
Dying with Dignity Canada
With Kim Jakeman’s appointment to the Legal Advisory Committee, standing committee of the Board of Directors of Dying with Dignity Canada she continues her work as a leader in the emerging legal field of MAID (medical assistance in dying). Kim is also the Chair of the National Canadian Bar Association End-of-Life Working Group and presented in that capacity on May 10, 2016 before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs regarding Bill C-14, the proposed legislation dealing with physician assisted death. Learn more about Dying with Dignity Canada here.
Firm Culture and Events Blog
We’re helping to care for our planet through taking a sustainable approach to managing our business and consuming resources responsibly.
Our community involvement goes beyond the boundaries of where we live and do business and extends to the global community through our environmental focus.
Our Green Committee has been actively involved in reducing waste in our workplace and reducing our environmental footprint. They have been instrumental in the many steps we have taken over the past few years to alter the way we run our business to become more environmentally responsible.
For example, our “Go Green” initiative, launched in 2006, is a firm wide initiative – spanning operations, IT, human resources, marketing and other functions – that coordinates sustainability projects. Through simple measures such as introducing LCD computer screens we have significantly reduced our per-capita energy consumption. Year after year, we continue building and expanding our efforts around sustainability.
Any cost savings on matters for institutional clients (for example, by going paperless on files) are passed on to our clients and reflected in our invoices. Our energy saving habits aren’t just about financial frugality, but reflect our commitment to environmental sustainability at a corporate and personal level.
Demonstrating our commitment
- Introduced electronic file management systems to enable scanning rather than printing documents and records
- Introduced LCD computer screens to reduce power consumption
- Adopted fax-to-desktop technology to help reduce paper consumption
- Eliminated the availability of bottled water throughout the firm and instead provide filtered water
- Implemented double sided printing firmwide, where practicable
- Removed all styrofoam products – replaced with paper and recyclable products
- Installed sensor lights in offices to minimize electricity waste
- Distribute documents via email whenever possible, reducing paper waste
- Posted signage throughout the firm to encourage everyone to recycle and reduce waste
- Positioned composting bins in all kitchen and coffee room areas
- Positioned recycling bins on every floor for cans, bottles, and paper products in addition to positioning them next to printers, copiers, photocopiers and all desks
- Retrofitted washrooms with automatic sinks and toilets to reduce water consumption
- Review documents online, printing only when necessary
- Use ceramic coffee mugs and water glasses instead of disposable drinking glasses
- Sharing books and magazines to promote recycling
- Using removable labels which helps us reuse items such as binders, accordion file pockets, file folders, store boxes, etc.
Firm Culture and Events Blog
Harper Grey was formed in 1907 and enjoys an incredible cultural legacy that has evolved over the past 100 years.
Our culture is rooted in our values which include integrity, teamwork, innovation and a commitment to excellence. Our culture is guided by our core belief that open and honest communication builds trust.
It is those values and beliefs that have shaped our genuinely collaborative environment. An environment that cultivates a healthy and collegial culture where everyone is treated with mutual dignity and respect. A diverse and inclusive culture that reflects the unique characteristics, experiences and perspectives of our people. A culture that promotes innovation, welcomes new challenges and fosters the collaboration that solves them. A culture that engages with its people encouraging everyone to bring optimism, enthusiasm, trust and creativity to their roles – and recognizes that is what enables all of us to perform at the highest levels and consistently exceed client expectations.
We are proud of the unique culture we’ve built here and are committed to strengthening and building on it.
Firm Culture and Events Blog
There are a diverse set of issues that women lawyers face that contribute to the high attrition rates. Of particular concern, is the mass exodus of female lawyers from legal practice at the five-year mark, which is an inherently challenging time for female lawyers. Surveys indicate that it is at this juncture that women feel that they need to make a choice between partnership and parenthood
Life in Law is a new, readily accessible resource for women lawyers in BC seeking help balancing life with a legal career. LiL hopes to reduce the exodus of women from the legal profession, by providing them with opportunities to raise issues they face in a confidential environment. Their services are casual and flexible and are provided primarily through phone or online chat support and ‘Dear LiL’ blog
Life in Law was founded to provide a safe platform for women lawyers to raise difficult issues in a confidential environment. They offer open, honest, respectful, non-judgmental communication with other women in law who have ‘been there’ and can provide advice when needed.
While not trained counsellors, all advisors are Harper Grey lawyers and peers who bring to every conversation the warmth of authentic connection and understanding of the emotional and practical issues unique to women in the legal profession who face many competing priorities in career and life.
At the startup stage, Life in Law is sponsored and powered by Harper Grey. At this initiative grows, our vision is for other law firms and lawyers in BC and across Canada to become involved.
Visit www.lifeinlaw.ca for more information.