Legal Leaders for Diversity and Inclusion – December, 2017


Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.

Excuse me as I use this newsletter for an editorial.

Earlier this week we marked the anniversary of the École  Polytechnique mass shooting which resulted in the deaths of 14 women in Montreal in 1989.  The killer blamed feminists for ruining his life.  The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls continues with heart wrenching stories from families of women, girls and LGBTQ2S.  News reports every day highlight the ongoing series of allegations of sexual assaults and harassment made (mainly) by girls and women against men who hold or did hold positions of power in politics, business, entertainment and sport.  One senses that it is the tip of the iceberg and that we will continue to be exposed to this ugliness for some time. We will, especially men, feel extremely uncomfortable. And that is a good thing.

The killing or assaults of women, sexual harassment of women, disrespectful behavior and non-inclusive behavior: actions by men against women. Not all men but as a man, my gender is the guilty party.  It must stop.

If ever there was a time for men and women to work together, it is now. In this ugly time, as men, we need to encourage other men to not just stand for equality but stand up for it, be visible and vocal advocates and allies working with women for real, not cosmetic change.  Let’s use this ugliness to propel us towards true equality and inclusiveness for women. Men and women, more than ever need to collectively ‘lean in’.

By the same token, women need to support not only other women (in particular younger women), but men too, in particular men who are driving for inclusive change.  Men and women must collaborate, not withdraw into our gender silos.  We need to be careful not create an environment of fear or undue caution which can result in the unintended consequence of setting back the gains we have made to date.  We have made progress but now is the time to take a big step forward.  Together.

Bad behavior must be surfaced and dealt with.  Men, not just women, need to be vocal in their disgust and intolerance.  No longer can we be bystanders. And women also need to bring balance and fairness to the dialogue in a way which results in lasting change.

So here is my challenge to the General Counsel community.

More than anybody else and more than any other time in recent memory, lawyers must lead.  We need to encourage balanced discussion and debate, and lead the change we need in business as well as society.  In particular, General Counsel and our teams must speak up, stand up, get involved, be balanced and supportive and most importantly drive the change we need for true inclusiveness.  All lawyers, men and women, need to call out behavior that is disrespectful and non-inclusive of women.

This will not happen soon enough but let’s use all of this ugliness to create the change we must have.  We will all play a part. But General Counsel and their teams can and must lead by action and example.

Religious and Cultural observances

  • December 1 – Eid-Maulad-un-Nabi (Islam) Anniversary of the birth of Prophet Muhammad. Muslims mark this occasion by special prayers and dedicating more time to reading the Koran.
  • December 3 – International Day for Disabled Persons (UN) Promotes the continuing integration of persons who are disabled into general society.
  • December 8 – Bodhi Day (Buddhist) In Japanese Zen, Bodhi Day is called “Rohatsu” and is the observance of enlightenment of the historical Buddha. Zen monasteries observe this day with a meditation retreat lasting several days. On the last night of a Rohatsu sesshin, monks and students often sit in meditation until dawn, as the Buddha did 25 centuries ago.
  • December 10 – Human Rights Day (UN) Established in 1948 by the United Nations to commemorate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which sets forth basic rights and freedoms to which all are entitled.
  • December 13 – Hanukkah (Dec 13-20) (Jewish) Commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.
  • December 21 – Solstice (International) In the Northern Hemisphere, winter begins today. In the Southern Hemisphere, today is the beginning of summer. Between the equator and the Arctic Circle, the sun rises and sets farthest south on the horizon for the year and the period of daylight is at its shortest–12 hours, 8 minutes at the equator and decreasing to zero at the Arctic Circle.
  • December 25 – Christmas Day (Christian) This day celebrates Jesus Christ’s birth over 2000 years ago. Customs include lighting candles, exchanging gifts and using evergreen decorations to celebrate this day, the most widely observed Christian festival of the year.
  • December 26 – Kwanzaa (African-American, Canadian, USA) A professor who wanted to encourage African Americans to celebrate their heritage started Kwanzaa’s in California in 1966. Kwanzaa means first fruit in Swahili and is a harvest festival. Families exchange gifts and have African-style feasts. Seven-pronged candleholders are lit on each consecutive night for the seven principles: unity, self-determination, working together, sharing, purpose, creativity and faith. The celebration continues till January 1.
  • December 31 – Omisoka (Japan) To usher in the new year, families clean their homes, eat toshi-koshi buckwheat noodles in the hope that one’s life will be stretched out as long as these noodles. As midnight approaches, Shinto temples around the country begin ringing out the old year, sounding the temple bell 108 times, signifying the 108 human worldly desires removed by the striking of the bell.
  • December 31 – Hogmanay (Scotland) The Scottish New Year, Hogmanay is derived from the French phrase meaning ‘Lead to the mistletoe’. Fire ceremonies, banging of pots and pans at midnight and bringing bread, salt and coal to their hosts to symbolize life, hospitality and warmth mark this exuberant occasion.
  • December 31 – New Year’s Eve (International) Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date goes back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, counting down the last seconds, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.

Other dates of note

Date Event
December 1, 2017 World AIDS Day (UN)
December 1, 2017 National Day (Romania)
December 1, 2017 Independence Day (Portugal)
December 2, 201y National Day (Laos, UAE)
December 2, 2017 International Day for the Abolition of Slavery (UN)
December 3, 2017 First Sunday of Advent (Christian)
December 5, 2017 International Volunteer Day for Economic & Social Development (UN)
December 5, 2017 Discovery day (Haiti)
December 6, 2017 St. Nicholas Day (Christian)
December 6, 2017 Independence Day (Finland)
December 6, 2017 Constitution Day (Spain)
December 7, 2017 International Civil Aviation Day (UN)
December 8, 2017 Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Christian)
December 9, 2017 Independence Day (Tanzania)
December 9, 2017 International Anti-Corruption Day (UN)
December 10, 2017 Constitution Day (Thailand)
December 11, 2017 International Mountain Day (UN)
December 12, 2017 Masá’il (15th Month) (Bahá’i)
December 12, 2017 Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico)
December 12, 2017 Jamhuri (Independence Day) (Kenya)
December 13, 2017 Aga Khan’s Birthday (Islam Ismaili)
December 13, 2017 Luciadagen (Sweden)
December 15, 2017 Navidades (Puerto Rico)
December 16, 2017 Posadas (Dec 16-24) (Mexico)
December 16, 2017` Bijoy Dibash (Bangladesh)
December 17, 2017 National Day (Bhutan)
December 18, 2017 Independence Day (Qatar)
December 18, 2017 International Migrants Day (UN)
December 20, 2017 International Solidarity Day (UN)
December 21, 2017 Yule (Wicca)
December 21, 2017 Tohji-Tasai (Shinto)
December 23, 2017 Heisei Emperor’s Birthday (Japan)
December 24, 2017 Independence Day (Libya)
December 25, 2017 Jinnah’s Birthday (Pakistan)
December 26, 2017 Death of Prophet Zarathustra (Zoroastrian)
December 26, 2017 Boxing Day (Canada, UK)
December 30, 2017 Rizal Day (Philippines)
December 31, 2017 Gahambar Maidyarem (Dec 31-Jan 4) (Zoroastrian)
December 31, 2017 Sharaf (16th Month) (Bahá’i)