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Siskinds’ IDEA Plan and Principles

IDEA Vision Statement

Leading by example with an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible workplace that values humility, compassion and cultural intelligence, and reflects and supports the communities we serve.

IDEA Mission Statement

Our Firm

At Siskinds, inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) are core values, and central to our vision for our firm. Our mission is to be proactive and innovative in our advancement of these values, leading the way for the profession.

Like any other firm priority, our commitment to IDEA is driven by our leadership. Our IDEA program is supported and championed by our Board, Partners, and Executive. The Board and Executive are accountable for the success of our IDEA goals and objectives. In addition, because the strength of our IDEA program depends on everyone’s participation, we are working to ensure all of our people understand their critical role in advancing these values.

Our IDEA Principles

A number of core principles underlie Siskinds’ approach to inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility.

First and foremost, we believe that fostering IDEA is simply the right thing to do. As a law firm, we understand we have a heightened obligation to advance justice and fairness, by taking steps to eliminate both deliberate and unintentional bias.

Second, our IDEA program is meant to remove barriers that impede the success of some members of our firm. Because we understand that even the most well-meaning individuals can make decisions driven by unintentional bias, our IDEA program includes robust unconscious bias education for all of our people. This promotes the equitable application of our policies, practices and programs. We reject the view that by expanding the diversity of our workforce, we are in any way compromising merit.

Third, we are committed to breaking down hierarchies within our firm. All of our colleagues are treated as important and vital members of the team, and we do not tolerate behaviour that undermines the value of any one of our lawyers or business professionals.

Finally, we are guided by the importance of inclusive leadership, educating all of our people in the values of humility, compassion, and cultural intelligence. By showing humility, we send the message that we are all on a journey of learning and growth, we all have work to do to understand the importance and impact of personal and systemic biases, and we need to adopt a posture of curiosity and a growth mindset when doing this work. Compassion builds connection across difference, ensuring that all voices in our organization are heard. Finally, our focus on cultural intelligence allows us to harness and leverage our differences, not diminish them.

Our People

Siskinds believes that our people are our most important strength, and we are continually taking meaningful steps to provide a safe and inclusive work environment. We believe these steps are necessary to enable all of our colleagues – our lawyers and business professionals – to feel valued and excel in their careers.

At Siskinds, we are working to create an environment that attracts top talent, including by increasing our representation of members of equity-deserving groups among both our lawyers and our business professionals. Groups that have been historically underrepresented in the legal profession, and in Canada’s workforce more broadly, include but are not limited to Black, Indigenous and people of colour, members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, employees with disabilities, including those with mental health issues, religious minorities, newcomers, and women of all communities. We are also focused on ensuring that employees with caregiving obligations find support and success in our firm.

Our Clients

At Siskinds, we understand that inclusion is good for business. Workplaces that embrace IDEA see higher levels of employee loyalty and engagement, and are more innovative, productive and successful. Because we also believe our clients are best served by law firms that reflect the diversity of our profession and our communities, our IDEA program is an integral component of our business strategy.

Our IDEA Program

When it comes to IDEA, we know the status quo is not an option. The aim of our program is to integrate our IDEA values and objectives into every aspect of our firm, eliminating any barriers that may prevent our people from reaching their full potential. Siskinds works to do this in three ways:

  1. First, by enhancing the diversity of our pipeline and ensuring our hiring practices are accessible and equitable. This includes a holistic, bias-free approach to hiring, which values lived experience and ensures talented candidates do not fall through the cracks as a result of unintentional bias.
  2. Second, by promoting the retention and advancement of our people. This means identifying and extricating where there may be bias embedded in any of our policies and processes, ensuring that our formal systems are applied equitably, and creating programs that promote professional growth and set all of our people up for success.
  3. Third, by fostering a supportive, collegial, and psychologically safe workplace that values compassion and is free from harassment and discrimination in any form. By advancing our collective and individual cultural competency, and educating our people about unconscious bias and microaggressions, we are working to intentionally create a culture where everyone can be their authentic selves and feel a genuine sense of personal belonging.

Given our drive toward growth and progress, we have built in regular reviews of our IDEA program. This allows us to remain up-to-date on the most pressing issues and approaches, target our resources effectively, and deepen our impact over time.

Our Community

Finally, at Siskinds we are committed to the communities we live in, work in, and serve. We are working to establish a corporate social responsibility program that includes formal pro bono, volunteer, and community giving initiatives. This will allow us to continue support and invest in the community, advance our IDEA goals externally, and deepen our impact in the community. We invite all of our people to participate in our corporate social responsibility programs, by participating in pro bono and volunteer activities, and we support and value those contributions.

IDEA Strategic Pillars

Our Leaders

Our leaders will commit to and serve as change agents for inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA), championing and supporting our IDEA program through:

  • visible support for inclusion, diversity equity, and accessibility;
  • active participation in the governance of our IDEA program;
  • active participation in firm educational programs, events and days of significance;
  • development and tracking of key performance indicators and reporting on progress;
  • taking accountability for inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility outcomes;
  • regular communication of and transparency in leadership decisions.

Our People

We will recruit, support, retain and advance a diverse workforce by addressing structural inequities, creating and revising policies, and supporting the career development of our people.

  • An IDEA lens will be applied to all firm policies, practices and programs.
  • All recruitment, hiring, compensation, retention, and advancement policies and decisions will be designed to advance our IDEA values.
  • Programs will be developed to support members of equity-deserving groups and ensure work opportunities are distributed fairly and equitably.
  • We will develop policies and programs to support work-life integration.

Our Relationships

Our culture will reflect our shared IDEA values. We will foster a supportive, collegial, and compassionate workplace free from harassment or discrimination of any kind, where difference is valued, and everyone feels a genuine sense of belonging.

  • We will create a robust education program to enhance our understanding of unconscious bias, microaggressions, inclusive leadership, and harassment and discrimination.
  • We will acknowledge and meaningfully celebrate days of significance, to ensure everyone in our workplace feels seen and valued.
  • We will promote interpersonal and intercultural competencies and the values of inclusive leadership, ensuring that everyone has the tools needed to build a culture of belonging.

Our Community

We will act on our IDEA values in our communities, and demonstrate our commitment through initiatives and partnerships that deepen our impact. We will:

  • develop formal pro bono, volunteer, and community giving programs;
  • support involvement in these activities and meaningfully recognize these efforts;
  • partner with clients to advance these values;
  • communicate our activities to external stakeholders;
  • support diverse suppliers.

Governance to support the IDEA Plan

Siskinds partner Michael Robb is the firm’s Chief IDEA Officer – The Chief IDEA Officer’s role is to champion the first three pillars of the IDEA Action Plan (Our Leaders, Our People and Our Relationships) and will Chair the IDEA Committee. In this role, Michael is a non-voting member of the firm’s Board of Directors. His role at the Board is to ensure that decisions are being made with an equity lens in mind consistent with the IDEA plan.

Siskinds partner Emily Foreman is the firm’s Chief Community Officer – The Chief Community Officer’s role is to champion the fourth pillar of the IDEA plan (Our Community). In this role, Emily also acts as a non-voting advisor to the Board and will be invited to Board meetings where matters within her mandate are being discussed.

Mahwash Khan is the firm’s Director, IDEA Programs – Mahwash leads the inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) program at Siskinds, working closely with the Chief IDEA Officer and other internal stakeholders to provide a strategic direction in advancing IDEA goals to cultivate an environment of authenticity and belonging.