Osler celebrates International Women's Day 2018

Colleen Moorehead, Tracy Sandler, Joyce M. Bernasek

Mar 21, 2018

On March 8, 2018, Osler hosted its inaugural event in support of International Women's Day, a day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and presents a call to action for accelerating gender parity. More than 150 female Osler members came together in our Toronto office for the event, which included an enlightening and inspirational panel discussion on why International Women’s Day still matters.

Joyce Bernasek, a partner in Osler’s Financial Services Practice Group and Co-Chair of Osler’s Women’s Committee, delivered the opening remarks, providing perspective on the relevance and history of International Women’s Day. Colleen Moorehead, Osler’s Chief Client Officer and a founder of The Judy Project, an executive forum designed to support women ascending into executive leadership positions, facilitated the panel discussion, and Tracy Sandler, a partner in Osler’s Insolvency & Restructuring Group, provided the closing remarks. Panelists included Tamara Finch, Managing Director and Head of Portfolio Management at Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan; Michelle Khalili, Managing Director at CIBC Capital Markets, Private Capital team, incoming Chair of the CIBC Women’s Network and Past Chair of 100 Women in Finance; Camilla Sutton, President and CEO, Women in Capital Markets (WCM); and Kristy Payne, Chief Communications Officer, Plan International Canada.

The panelists, who each drive diversity strategies in their respective roles, shared their insight and personal experiences on a wide range of topics, including the diversity initiatives each panelist’s organization undertakes, the significance of culture within organizations and communities and how it affects gender parity, the importance of identifying and understanding unconscious biases, and the relevance and reception of quotas and targets for women on boards.

Tamara Finch talked about Ontario Teachers' work to promote diversity and inclusion and how the organization is changing the dialogue regarding gender equality in its investee companies. The organization’s focus on diversity includes challenging its deal teams and holding them accountable to put more women on boards to meet a 30% target by 2022. It has extended a similar challenge to its search firms when filling boards and is implementing other initiatives to embrace diversity, such as undergoing bias training.

Michelle Khalili discussed the various aspects involved in driving organizational change around gender equality at a large bank, including the role that leadership plays. “When we talk and think about changing the culture it really does start with your senior leadership team,” said Michelle, who adds that empowering employee committees to execute a diversity strategy is also vital. Michelle also talked about the importance of engaging both women and men as agents of change in working toward diversity goals and setting diversity metrics that align with organizational objectives.

Camilla Sutton from Women in Capital Markets, an organization focused on driving change and moving more women into leadership roles in the industry, spoke about how WCM is facilitating and changing conversations surrounding gender diversity. “We do a lot of myth busting,” said Camilla, who talked about WCM’s work in debunking myths about working in capital markets, including showing girls, through social media and outreach at schools, that the capital markets business isn’t just a “boys club.” Part of WCM’s work, Camilla explains, is to build the talent pipeline for careers in capital markets and doing advocacy work and research to provide powerful tools for change.

Kristy Payne discussed Plan International Canada’s initiatives both in Canada and abroad, including its CEO for a Day program and Because I am a Girl movement, which works to end gender inequality and promote girls’ rights. She also talked about Plan International Canada’s work in involving communities to create change and how it looks at cultural norms when addressing challenges. It’s time to look at power dynamics both domestically and abroad when it comes to gender, said Kristy.

Osler holds a longstanding commitment to gender diversity and is dedicated to developing processes and programs that promote the advancement of women within our firm. For more information on how Osler fosters diversity and inclusion, view our 2017 annual report Diversity at Osler: 2017 Year in Review.

Joyce Bernasek, a partner in Osler’s Financial Services Practice Group and Co-Chair of Osler’s Women’s Committee, welcomes attendees and panelists to the firm’s first International Women's Day event on March 8, 2018.

Michelle Khalili, Managing Director at CIBC Capital Markets, Private Capital team (middle) speaks at the panel discussion facilitated by Osler’s Chief Client Officer, Colleen Moorehead (first on left). Other panelists include Tamara Finch, Managing Director and Head of Portfolio Management at Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (second from left); Camilla Sutton, President and CEO, Women in Capital Markets (second from right); and Kristy Payne, Chief Communications Officer, Plan International Canada (far right).