Benchers approve model policies on workplace equality and language

At their July meeting the Benchers approved model policies on workplace equality and respectful language prepared by the Women in the Legal Profession Task Force and the Model Policy Revision Working Group.

The Workplace Equality Policy and the Respectful Language Guideline are posted in the Practice Support/Articles section of the Law Society’s website as best practice resources for the profession, replacing the Workplace Equity and Gender Neutral ­Language model policies.

The original Workplace Equity model policy largely focused on the right of women to equitable treatment in the workplace. The new model policy expands its scope to include other traditionally disadvantaged groups in a manner consistent with BC’s Human Rights Code. The title of the policy has been changed to Workplace Equality to avoid confusion with “employment equity” policies that flow from the federal Employment Equity Act.

The Respectful Language Guideline sets out general principles of respectful communication, identifies potential issues that may arise in specific contexts, and provides both advice and examples for effective use of respectful language. The Guideline represents a significant departure from the more prescriptive approach of its predecessor model policy, which was adapted from the Gender Neutral Language Policy issued by the provincial government in 1991.