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Women@Blakes

Women@Blakes
Women@Blakes
We champion women.

Blakes has long been committed to helping women lawyers achieve business success. We founded Women@Blakes in 2007 to focus on the recruitment, professional development and retention of women, and to create business development and leadership opportunities for women lawyers and clients. Since then, our women’s programming has grown exponentially, reaching more professionals than ever before, building invested communities and making an impact across the country.

 

We're proud to support the advancement of women in business and law through the following programs, among others:

Stepping Up: Preparing to Be a GC

In 2014, in partnership with Women General Counsel Canada (WGCC), we established a leadership development program called Stepping Up: Preparing to Be a GC. The program is dedicated to increasing the number of women general counsel in Canadian public and private companies, not-for-profit institutions, government entities and Canadian subsidiaries of multinationals.

Stepping Beyond: Future Opportunities

In 2018, we introduced Stepping Beyond: Future Opportunities, a series of programs geared towards women GCs who want to position themselves for opportunities to expand or step beyond their role as general counsel. We are delighted to partner with WGCC on this program. 

In-House Women of Colour

This annual workshop and networking event brings together leading voices to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing in-house women lawyers of colour. The program includes candid and insightful discussion with inspiring women. In 2019, the program included Michele Coleman Mayes, who kicked-off the discussion with her insights on the need for new solutions and tools to interrupt bias and drive meaningful change across the legal profession. Mayes drew on her 30-year career as a General Counsel and role as Former Chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession to ignite a conversation that also included: Cecile Chung, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Samuel Group of Companies; Kikelomo Lawal, Chief Legal Officer & Corporate Secretary, Interac Corp.; Sarah Qadeer, General Counsel, The Home Depot, Canada; and Blakes Partner Rahat Godil.

Women GCs on Boards

Inspired by the belief that diversity enriches the conversation and decision-making at the board table, we joined WGCC to launch Women GCs on Boards in 2017 in support of women GCs who are strong candidates for board positions. The workshops are designed to help women GCs leverage their business and strategic skills by developing their value proposition and board profile to support their board aspirations. In support of this program, Blakes conducts cutting-edge research to create an annual benchmarking study examining the legal professional backgrounds of board members. The insights gained from this study helps us to tailor our programming, foster discussions and provide networking opportunities to support the advancement of women GCs onto boards.

Annual Women’s Event

In 2019, we celebrated our 12th Annual Women’s event in Toronto with guest speaker, Canadian icon Margaret Atwood. Over the past 12 years, we have introduced incredible speakers to our clients, who have shared their unique perspectives, from filmmaker Mira Nair to authors Claire Shipman and Brigid Schulte; Wall Street banker, speaker and gospel singer Carla Harris; former Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean; and Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser.

We're also proud  to be part of the following programs supporting the advancement of women:

The 30% Club

The 30% Club is a global organization founded by 28 CEOs of leading companies and business organizations. Officials from many of Canada’s largest banks and accounting firms are among the founding members, whose goal is to boost the proportion of women on boards of directors to 30 per cent. In Canada, they aspire to reach that target by 2022. Blakes Chair Brock Gibson sits on the Advisory Board committee.

Catalyst

Blakes is a member of Catalyst, a leading not-for-profit organization with a mission to expand opportunities for women in business. Their vision is to create more inclusive workplaces where employees representing every dimension of diversity can thrive.

Rotman School of Management Programs

Blakes is a founding sponsor of two leadership programs started by the Rotman: The Judy Project, which Blakes continues to participate in, and which supports executive and senior-level women in leadership roles within Canadian businesses and organizations; a two-day intensive program (run by Rotman’s Initiative for Women in Business with input from Blakes) that helps women lawyers in years five to seven build professional confidence and acquire relevant business skills; and the Business Leadership for Women Lawyers program, which assists women lawyers with career advancement and organizational performance.

Gender Equality Leadership in the Canadian Private Sector

Blakes is one of 20 organizations, and the only Canadian law firm, participating in Gender Equality Leadership in the Canadian Private Sector, a three-year, government-funded project led by Global Compact Network Canada. The program promotes gender equality by engaging the Canadian private sector as responsible accelerators and establishing a blueprint readily applied by any Canadian company looking to take action to achieve better gender balance.
 
To learn more about our pro bono work for women’s initiatives, please visit our Pro Bono page

Key Contacts:

Kim Harle
Partner
Alison Jeffrey
Senior Adviser, Strategic Initiatives & Client Development Coaching
Cheryl Satin
Partner
Anne Drost
Partner