Guides & model policies
What is employment equity?
Employment equity has these essential components:
- removal of discriminatory barriers to employment and promotion
- establishment of positive policies, practices, internal goals and timetables towards the achievement of employment equity by increasing the recruitment, hiring, training and promotion of designated group members; and
- improvement in the participation of designated group members throughout an organization through hiring, training and promotion.
Designated group members include women, racialized peoples, Aboriginal peoples and persons with a disability. Employment equity in the legal profession in Nova Scotia includes consideration of other underrepresented groups such as French Acadians and LGBTTI communities.
As lawyers, our duty to work toward employment equity is an ethical responsibility that falls under Ch. 6.3-5 of the Code of Professional Conduct, which states: “A lawyer must not discriminate against any person.” For legal services organizations, this rule requires the removal of any recruitment or promotion practices that cause discriminatory barriers.
This ethical responsibility is further elaborated by Law Office Management Standard #8 - Equity and Diversity, which reiterates the requirement for lawyers and legal services organizations to “treat all persons in a manner consistent with best practices in human rights law and the Code of Professional Conduct, and have a proportionate and principled written policy with regards to such practices” as well as “a meaningful process” to ensure adherence.
Chapter three of the Code outlines the duties lawyers owe to their clients, including duties to be competent and provide quality of service. These two rules stress that lawyers must take care in communicating with their clients and possess the necessary knowledge, skills and capacities to carry out the work requested. Examined through an employment equity lens, this requirement goes beyond simply legal knowledge and suggests a need for a diversity of lawyers to meet the needs of a diverse Nova Scotian public.
Increasing representation of equity-seeking communities in the profession will enable lawyers to effectively serve the growing diversity in society.