Toronto law firms fall behind on diversity stats

March 29, 2012 A new report indicates that large law firms in Toronto are falling behind in diversity statistics.

According to the DiversityLeads 2012 report, compiled by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute in Management & Technology, just 26.7 per cent of senior leaders in the legal sector were women last year.
This figure breaks down to reveal that 40.2 per cent of judges were women, and that women accounted for 42.9 per cent of Crown and deputy Crown attorneys. It is the statistics coming out of law firms that pull the average way down, with just 25 per cent of partners at law firms being female.

The report warns that the exclusion of qualified women from top leadership positions in the legal sector could translate into significant financial and client losses as well as dwindling business performance.

“There is no doubt that diversity is good for business,” says Wendy Cukier, author of the report and vice president of research and innovation at Ryerson.

“There has been undeniable progress, but it was pretty clear from the interviews we conducted during our research that many women in corporate firms felt significant barriers.

"They often felt they were held to a higher standard than men and there was a striking contrast between what men and women reported that we didn’t expect. Women are in the legal profession but for some reason they’re just not rising to the top of Toronto’s Bay Street firms.”

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