Equity in Action: Reviewing Your Social Activities

business people interacting at a table at a seminar

Have you reviewed your workplace social activities with an equity lens?

In this latest blog in our Equity in Action, we’ll discuss step two from our Six Steps to Make Your Legal Workplace More Equitable – reviewing your social activities. Many workplace social activities cannot be enjoyed by employees for various reasons including their race, gender, religious beliefs, family situation, and income.  

Let’s reflect on two scenarios that you or your colleagues may find yourselves in: 

Scenario 1: 

Miriam is a full-time working single parent of two. She has been an associate at ABC Law for a year but she hasn’t been able to attend any social events. The social events organized by the firm are scheduled during after-work hours when Miriam must be home to care for her children. Miriam has come to you, her reporting manager, to express her feelings of disconnect with her co-workers as she is not able to attend events outside of regular business hours.  

What would you do in this situation if you were Miriam’s manager? 

Here are some questions to ask yourself: 

  • Are all of your firms’ social events organized for outside of regular business hours? 
  • Do you consider your colleagues family situations when organizing social activities for your workplace? 

Scenario 2: 

Your firm is planning a catered lunch for a colleague who is retiring and sent out an email requesting that employees pay a certain amount of money to contribute to the cost of the lunch. Brian, a paralegal who just started with the firm, realized the amount requested for the social event exceeds his budget significantly. During his weekly check-in with his manager, he voiced his concern with the request of having all employees contribute the same amount to the social event.  

What would you do in this situation if you were Brian’s manager? 

Here are questions to ask yourself: 

  • Is it fair to ask for the same amount paid by employees regardless of their position in the firm? 
  • Are employees missing out on workplace social events due to their income? 

While planning social activities for your workplace it’s important to watch out for events that:

  • centre on the consumption of alcohol,
  • only occur outside of regular business hours, and
  • events where all staff have to pay the same amount, regardless of their position in the firm. 

Our goal is that by the end of this blog series is for you, your colleagues and firm know how to approach various situations to make your legal workplace more equitable. 

Questions or comments? 

Contact us at [email protected] or submit your comment or response to “what would you do?” in these scenarios by completing our comment box at the end of this blog! Please feel free to remain anonymous and note that we review all comments prior to publishing.

This Equity in Action blog post was written by Asha Pelly, NSBS Summer Law Student.