THE LAWYERS WEEKLY
June 17, 2011 | 25
Continued From Page 22
“For example, in some Asian
cultures, you don’t speak out
during a meeting and defer to
the typical North American
business culture. When that
happens, sometimes that cul-
tural difference is misinter-
preted as that person isn’t confi-
dent, or doesn’t know what he
or she is doing, instead of invit-
ing that person to put his or her
important view forward.”
She explains that FMC, which
for the last three years was
named one of “Canada’s Top 40
Best Employers for New Can-
adians” by the editors of Can-
ada’s Top 100 Employers, has
been reaching out to immigrant
communities across Canada.
Three years ago, the firm
became the first in the country
to establish a six-month paid
internship to help an internationally trained lawyer
acquire experience working as a
paralegal at FMC in order to
become qualified to practice in
Canada. That initiative was
used as the model for the University of Toronto Faculty of
Law’s 10-month comprehensive
internship program for internationally trained lawyers and
internationally trained educated law graduates, and of
which Blakes is among three
law firm partners.
“We have a very diverse
population in this country, so
we’ve got to make sure there are
no obstacles or barriers to
people because of or attributable to their backgrounds when
we are recruiting and trying to
retain the best and the bright-est,” says Broer, who co-leads
FMC’s national securities litigation group.
She explains the firm’s four-and-a-half-year diversity initiative
emphasizes the need for inclusion
to be part of the “daily dialogue”
within FMC, which, for the first
time, was named by Mediacorp as
one of Canada’s Best Diversity
Employers this year.
“Some of the best skills of lawyers are about making their point
and winning, but open-mindedness in this context is absolutely
critical,” says Broer, who points
out that “straight, white, able-bodied males” have been her
most important mentors.
“Through our diversity train-
ing, we try to challenge every-
one on the unconscious bias we
all carry—even me, who’s sup-
posed to be championing divers-
ity within the firm.”
She explains that bias can
sometimes appear as accommo-
dation, but might in fact be a
case of “over-compensating”
someone in a minority group
perceived to have a harder time
at accomplishing or succeeding
rather than recognizing each
individual for his or her abilities
regardless of their background.
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