Gaveling the Glass Ceiling: Preparing for the 2017 Women’s Transformative Leadership Forum in Toronto

Topics: Access to Justice, Corporate Legal, Diversity, Efficiency, Law Firms, Legal Executive Events, Talent Development, Thomson Reuters, Women’s Leadership Blog Posts

rising star cohort

As the June issue of “Gaveling the Glass Ceiling” goes to press, we are getting ready for the 2017 Women’s Transformative Leadership Forum on June 22 in Toronto, Ontario. The day-long event, sponsored by Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute and Lexpert, is entitled, “Empowerment by Improving Participation and Representation” — and that’s a theme that resonated with me and many of those who advocate for more inclusion and stronger representation of women on boards, committees and in leadership roles.

The event coincides with our recent launch of the rising star cohort program pilot, chronicled on the Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law Spotlight page on the Legal Executive Institute blog, that strives to push for further advancement of women in the legal profession and highlights the various challenges impacting rising female stars.

With the Women’s Transformative Leadership Forum’s focus on improving women’s representation, participation and inclusion, we want to place the emphasis on ascendant women’s leadership — as opposed to diversity — within the corporate and law firm setting. We are concerned with how young women leaders ascend professionally with the aid — or despite the actions of — male and female colleagues. As we said when we launched the Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law initiative, we need to focus not simply on promoting individual transformative measures, but — more importantly — on seeking enterprise-level change.


I’m especially excited about a panel that promises to take up one of the most vital issues facing women’s advancement in the legal industry and in the business world in general — the lack of women’s representation on corporate boards.


I will be honored to be offering the opening remarks to this incredible one-day event, and I am equally privileged to be joined by Event co-Chairs Bindu Dhaliwal, the Associate General Counsel & Director of Environmental, Social and Governance at BMO Financial Group; and Shanin Lott, Managing Director of Talent & Professional Resources at Stikeman Elliott.

There will be so much to participate in and discuss at the Forum, and attendees will also have the unique and valuable opportunity to meet distinguished luminaries from the legal industry and hear their ideas to help improve women’s leadership opportunities for current and future women in law.

I’m especially excited about a panel that promises to take up one of the most vital issues facing women’s advancement in the legal industry and in the business world in general — the lack of women’s representation on corporate boards.

This issue is incredibly timely — Canada and the U.S. remain well behind other developed nations when it comes to female representation on corporate boards, according to industry statistics. Despite high rates of university graduation (indeed, higher than that of men in some countries), women account for just about 19% of board members on companies in the S&P 500 index in the United States and 20% in Canada. Many other countries posted higher rates, such Norway with 35%, France (30%), Sweden (29%) and the United Kingdom (23%).

This panel hopes to explore ways to help curtail such widespread gender disparity. Panelists include Prof. Anita Anand, the J.R. Kimber Chair in Investor Protection and Corporate Governance, and Professor of Law & Academic Director of the Centre for the Legal Profession and Program on Ethics in Law and Business at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law; Priya Patil, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Owner of Brahma Advisors; Deborah Rosati, Corporate Director of Sears Canada, and Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Women Get on Board; and Kerry O’Reilly Wilks, Head of Legal for North America & the UK at Vale SA. The panel will be moderated by Liz Watson, President & Chief Executive Officer of WATSON Inc.

I’m excited to hear what this esteemed panel will say about this crucial issue.

If you haven’t registered for this important event yet, there is still time! I hope to see you there.