TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 06/18/13 -- BMO Financial Group received the 2013 Social Responsibility Award and Simon Fish, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the bank was named the 2013 General Counsel of the Year Award during the ninth annual Canadian General Counsel Awards (CGCA), held last night at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto.
BMO and the bank's legal group were recognized for the significant work they are doing, within the bank itself and within the broader legal community, to drive change in the areas of sustainability and diversity, including:
-- Developing an Environmental, Social and Governance Report (ESG) and Public Accountability Statement detailing how BMO manages the environmental, social and governance impacts of its business. The ESG scorecard is innovative and transparent in the disclosure of the bank's key sustainability metrics.-- Fundraising and providing mentoring and academic support through numerous community initiatives including the United Way, Junior Achievement and the LAWS Mentoring Program, an academic and extracurricular program where our lawyers work with high school students who face challenges in school/accessing post-secondary education.-- Development of a new board diversity policy, which commits the bank to board composition in which each gender comprises no fewer than one-third of the independent directors.-- The Legal group is a forerunner in setting specific, measurable goals for the hiring and retention of minorities in senior roles globally and has shown leadership in its representation of women at senior levels.-- Introducing diversity metrics to the selection process for its external counsel program. BMO is at the forefront of Canadian companies that ask external firms to disclose workforce diversity statistics. As a direct result, many law firms who wish to do business with BMO are now putting in place systems to track diversity.
"Winning this award is particularly gratifying because it tells me that while we're pursuing our business strategies, others see that we're also living up to our social responsibilities as a global leader," said Simon Fish, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, BMO Financial Group.
Mr. Fish was also recognized by his peers with the 2013 Canadian General Counsel of the Year for leadership excellence in his profession and role in the bank's overall business performance.
"From our Board of Directors to our leadership to our employees to our external partners, BMO fosters a corporate culture in which doing the right thing is second nature," said Mr. Fish. "The personal acknowledgement from my peers in Canada's legal community has made this a memorable occasion for me, and for this, I am truly honoured."
The CGCA is Canada's only national awards program to recognize excellence in the In-House Counsel community.
"We congratulate Simon and BMO Financial Group's legal group on the significant impact they are making as champions of BMO's commitment to being a leader in social responsibility," said Dale Ponder, CGCA Advisory Board Member and Firm Managing Partner and Chief Executive, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. "Their efforts and initiatives serve as practical guideposts for all of us in the legal community."
About BMO Financial Group
Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets at $555 billion as at April 30, 2013, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.
About BMO Legal
BMO Legal is a global team of over 730 Legal, Corporate Secretary, Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Security professionals. As General Counsel, Simon Fish is responsible for the overall legal affairs and legal risk management of the bank. He is Chair of BMO's Sustainability Council, and the Executive Diversity Champion and Co-Chair of BMO's Diversity Renewal Council.
Ralph Marranca, Toronto