Mothers, fathers, surrogate birth or adoptive parents gain from the firm's new parental leave policy
Parental policies have historically leaned towards women taking more extended leave than men. Recognizing the differential impact this structure has had on women's careers, Kimberly Grange, Dentons Canada Director of Inclusion Diversity and Equity, says the firm's new parental leave policy is working to dismantle that barrier.
Dentons new parental policy focuses on reducing barriers, supporting employees, levelling the playing field, and continuing to push the professional services industry to be more inclusive, Grange says.
As Canada’s first EDI director, Grange will lead the firms Inclusion and Diversity Council and support its affinity groups, including the Black Professionals Network, WomenLEAD, and GLOW. She is also a member of Dentons’ global inclusion and diversity team and collaborates with colleagues across regions.
Grange says the previous parental policy, which had not changed in over a decade, provided 17 weeks top-up for maternity leave and four weeks of parental leave for fathers. In addition, it had no specific adoptive benefits and was limited to only firm associates and directors, excluding legal assistance and professional business teams.
She says that the management team spent over two years reviewing input on market trends, consulting with senior leaders, documenting feedback from employees and prospective candidates, and hearing responses about the old policy's lack of inclusivity.
"The issue was that it was only available to associates and directors and did not cover all the caregiving categories or various ways people build their families."
In the new policy, Grange says maternity and parental leave benefits are available to all Dentons Canada employees with equal top-ups and support for non-gestational caregivers, including financial assistance for adoption and fertility drug treatment.
She says that employees can receive up to 26 weeks of top salary, including all genders and prospective adoptive parents. "Mothers, fathers, surrogate birth or adoptive parents are now able to benefit from our new policy."
The concept of lawyer versus non-lawyer has historically been a point of inequity, and Grange says the new parental leave policy is dismantling that hindrance and reducing distinctions between associates and other professionals in the firm.
When effectively written, policies contribute to creating a culture of inclusion and belonging, and this policy is the type of systems-based work that represents one of the ways the firm will continue to act and deliver on EDI goals, she says.
Grange says the firm wanted to create a policy that allows parents to structure leaves in their best interests and remove gender from influencing the outcome.
The new policy ensures that all new parents, regardless of gender identity, forming their families by adoption or using a surrogate, effectively take time off to parent and support their households, she says.
"Over time, we expect that this will also have the benefit of mitigating the differential impact that the gender distinctions in historical policies created."
An essential practice will also be reviewing the policy annually to ensure it is competitive and creating the opportunity for all parents to take time off and meet employee needs, Grange says.
"There's a lot more to do and we're really committed to embedding it across the business to ensure it's sustainable and integrated. We're working to create a culture of belonging that works for everybody."
Grange has held various leadership positions throughout her career and has a strong record of developing talent processes as well as delivering projects through an EDI lens.
Prior to her new role, Grange worked as director of talent, recruitment and student development at Dentons and was responsible for the professional development and management of students in the Toronto office, in addition to student and lateral recruitment. She led the development of the Canadian region’s student recruitment strategy, working closely with the professional talent management teams in other regions and senior leadership to further the firm’s goal of identifying and retaining exceptional talent.
She has also taken an active role advancing conversations about mental health at Dentons and with students on campuses as part of the firm’s objective to destigmatize mental health in the legal industry.