BMO lawyer works with Hockey Diversity Alliance to help eradicate racism in hockey

In-house counsel is using his skillset to make positive change in Canada’s favourite sport

BMO lawyer works with Hockey Diversity Alliance to help eradicate racism in hockey
Glen Lewis

Joining the Hocky Diversity Alliance as an advisor and board member last year gave Glen Lewis an opportunity to use skills gained from his role as an in-house lawyer to support a cause very dear to his heart. As a hockey father, a coach and an avid fan of the sport, Lewis had provided legal services to professional athletes during his time in private practice. Following the murder of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter movement last year, he was motivated to put his skills to use again.

“After having those difficult conversations with my children, I started to think about ways that I can perhaps give something back or contribute in some way to the fight for equality in society,” says Lewis. “When I had a call from a professional contact telling me about this organization called the Hockey Diversity Alliance, it seemed like a good way to marry my passion for hockey with some of my professional training.”

Lewis has found his legal skills to be a great asset in advancing the HDA – an alliance formed by a group of minority professional hockey players with a goal to eradicate racism from the sport and to inspire a diverse generation of hockey players and fans.

“The negotiation and drafting skills that I have honed and developed over my 20 years on Bay Street – both in-house and in private practice – have been transferrable and helped me in negotiating a number of different commercial and sponsorship deals, including with Scotiabank,” says Lewis, who has been with Bank of Montreal Financial Group for seven years and currently holds the title of senior legal counsel, commercial. He previously spent more than 10 years at Minden Gross LLP.

After consulting with some of the hockey players in the alliance, Lewis drafted a pledge on behalf of the HDA which calls on the National Hockey League to commit to various goals to make the game more inclusive. The pledge calls for an increase in the number of Black executives in the NHL to 3.5 per cent before the end of the 2024/2025 season, and an increase of the employment of Black hockey-related personnel to five per cent before the end of the 2020/2021 season, and eight per cent before the end of the 2022/2023 season.

The pledge also calls for at least 50 per cent of the NHL’s executive inclusion committee to be comprised of members selected by the HDA, and for mandatory anti-racism and unconscious bias education to be implemented within the League, among other goals.

 The diversity and inclusion training that Lewis has experienced during his time at Bank of Montreal was also very beneficial, particularly as he joined at a time when the bank was very focused on accountability and hard metrics with a goal to reduce and ultimately eliminate discrimination. At BMO, Lewis had the opportunity to participate in training on issues including unconscious bias and white privilege, and to contribute to conversations about hiring targets, procurement targets, the need for education and formal policies in the workplace.

“A lot of that training helped inform my draft of the NHL pledge,” he says.

In-house counsel are particularly well suited to fighting for social causes, Lewis believes.

“One of the differences between my private practice life and my in-house practice is that my in-house experience has provided me with a lot of skills outside of formal legal skills that have helped me in my volunteer efforts,” says Lewis. Exposure to things like budget allocation, staffing, public relations, marketing and communications enabled Lewis to develop a working knowledge of these areas, all of which have been beneficial in his work for the HDA.

“Ultimately, the reason I got involved was the opportunity to help BIPOC children get access to the game of hockey which I think is a beautiful game, and to help make the environment around the game friendlier for BIPOC children,” says Lewis. “I hope I can play a small part in helping the HDA create education programing on diversity and inclusion and also help the HDA set up some grassroots programing that will introduce more BIPOC kids to the game and make it cheaper so they can become lifelong participants in the game.” 


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