EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION AT MCMILLAN
McMillan is committed to fostering a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion that respects and embraces the unique backgrounds, perspectives, experiences and talents of individuals at all levels of the firm. This helps every firm member to realize their full potential and enhances their ability to achieve professional excellence. Equity, diversity and inclusion are advanced at McMillan under the leadership of our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council, and through progressive firm policies, and participation by the firm and its members in various organizations.
MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO
“A law firm that puts equity, diversity and inclusion at the heart of its efforts is better at serving its clients, a better place for its people and better for the broader community. At McMillan, we believe deeply that these values are not only a moral imperative, but are central to how we will continue to grow and prosper as a firm.
While we, like the legal community, have a long way to go, we are proud of the steps we are taking to live these values. It starts with the firm’s leadership team, which is the most diverse of any major Canadian law firm. How did we do that? By finding the best talent and ensuring they have the opportunity to succeed and that work allocation, promotion and client opportunities are bias-free.
We see these values at work for our clients too. Research shows diversity makes for better advice and decisions and, indeed, that has been our experience. Building on our One Office philosophy, inclusion and diversity help us deliver innovative solutions, exceptional client service and contributes to our communities across the country.
Our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion is also central to our strategic plan, where we aim to make McMillan a great place to work for everyone. This includes eliminating systemic and institutional barriers to success and ensuring a work environment where all firm members are treated with dignity and respect.
Our goal is to build a diverse and inclusive team of the best legal talent in Canada, reflecting the communities we live in, focused on the needs of our clients. McMillan is well on its way.
I am committed to continuing our efforts to reach this goal through my time as CEO.”
Tim Murphy, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner, McMillan LLP
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council: Our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council (EDIC) is comprised of the following firm members:
- Tushara Weerasooriya (Chair, EDIC)
- Tim Murphy
- Guneev Bhinder
- John Clifford
- Herb Ono
- Nisha Rider
- Tiffany Soucy
- Marina Tran
The EDIC is responsible for developing and co-ordinating the firm’s inclusion initiatives and makes recommendations directly to the firm’s leadership. As part of its mandate, the EDIC consults with McMillan’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group, which is comprised of firm members from a broad cross-section of offices, practice groups, key staff roles and other stakeholders.
Our commitment to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the firm is demonstrated through the initiatives highlighted below:
Firm Environment: McMillan implemented a firm-wide consultation process to design and announce core Firm Values and related behaviours which reflect a firm consensus on fostering a positive, diverse and productive work environment. These values are: Respect, Teamwork, Commitment, Client Service and Professional Excellence. In identifying the first firm value of “Respect”, McMillan has set an expectation that all firm members are committed to maintaining a work environment where individuals will be supported and treated with respect and dignity regardless of age, race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religious beliefs, seniority or position.
Firm Policies: McMillan has established internal policies and practices intended to provide equal opportunity and foster a workplace free of discrimination, including a progressive Alternative Work Arrangement Policy and Workplace Accommodation Policy, a generous Maternity and Parental, Leave Policy, an Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Gender Transition Guidelines.
Recruitment: McMillan has adopted proactive recruitment strategies that are non-discriminatory, both directly and systemically, and encourage the hiring of diverse talents. McMillan’s Professional Services Committee (PSC), comprised of lawyers from all offices, oversees all activities to ensure these objectives are met in our recruitment of students and lawyers. Our national Human Resources team ensures these objectives are met in our recruitment of staff and other firm members.
Training: McMillan provides equity, diversity and inclusion training to all firm members. Training is provided both by external consultants specializing in equity, diversity and inclusion training, as well as by the firm’s human resources professionals. The training includes onboarding training for all new members of the firm about the firms’ commitment to EDI and EDI programs in addition to workshops on identifying and minimizing unconscious bias, mental health awareness well as improving intercultural and intercommunity awareness.
Advancement: Investing in our people to support their career growth and advancement is important to us. The firm invests in professional development programs, coaching, and informal and formal mentoring to provide our firm members the skills and development they need to progress in their careers at the firm. For example, each associate has a formal mentor pursuant to McMillan’s Mentoring Policy, which among other things, aims to address any barriers to advancement, and provide support to the associate to develop and build their profile within the legal community. Further, McMillan leaders review all performance assessments, feedback and performance objectives to ensure that everyone is evaluated and advanced based on merit, free from bias or discrimination.
Mental Health and Wellness Program: McMillan recognizes the importance of championing a work environment that supports and encourages the mental health and wellness of our people. Our comprehensive mental health program comprises a variety of support and resources, as well as initiatives that include regular education sessions on mental health topics and annual participation in the national Not Myself Today Campaign. In addition, McMillan provides Mental Health First Aid training, a certificate program delivered by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, to our operations leadership team so that they develop the skills and tools to better support others who are facing mental health challenges. Firm members receive support for personal wellness and fitness interests, various wellness education sessions, fitness/wellness classes, wellness resources and access to virtual health care to address immediate health and wellness concerns.
Affinity Groups: McMillan encourages firm members to join or form affinity groups that are of personal interest to them. Affinity groups are voluntary, member-led groups that serve as a resource for firm members with the goal of promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace. Affinity groups bring together those within an organization who wish to have an outlet within the workplace to share commonalities that may be grounded in culture, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or other facets of their individuality. We currently have affinity groups for our Asian Lawyers, Black Lawyers, Black Staff, First Generation Lawyers and Lawyers and professionals who identify as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or two-spirited (LGBTQ2+) as well as a Jewish Affinity Group, a Family Matters Affinity Group and a Muslim Affinity Group.
Gender Parity Initiative: At McMillan, we are committed to ongoing efforts and concrete actions aimed at eliminating gender bias and improving our programs and policies to retain and advance female lawyers within our firm. McMillan’s Gender Parity Initiative works to sustain an environment where female lawyers can excel, advance, and be well represented in the equity partnership and in leadership roles within the firm. McMillan also demonstrates leadership in advancing women in the workforce and law by participating in numerous community initiatives. We are encouraged by the steps we have taken to advance gender equity at our firm and are dedicated to furthering this important initiative. More information about the firm’s Gender Parity Initiative is available here.
Pronoun Guidelines: McMillan is committed to creating a safe and supportive environment for discussions about gender identity and expression, and we recognize that name and gender identity are central to many individuals’ sense of self, identity and well-being. To honour, acknowledge and support individuals’ self-identification, the Firm has adopted Pronoun Guidelines so that Firm members may self-identify the pronoun by which they wish to be addressed. Firm members may elect to display the pronouns they use in their email signatures, in their external website bios and on the Firm’s internal directory and Webex platforms.
Reflection Room: McMillan has established reflection rooms to provide a place for meditation, quiet reflection, prayer and worship for firm members and visiting clients.
Survey: McMillan engages a third party to conduct an equity, diversity and inclusion survey on a regular basis. The purpose of the survey is to assist McMillan leaders to better understand the diversity of firm members, and whether we are continuing to create an equitable and inclusive work environment. The information gathered is used to develop or improve specific programs, policies and practices that support diverse firm members and to measure our progress against industry benchmarks.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award: The annual Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award recognizes the contributions and efforts of firm members who demonstrate a commitment to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion at McMillan.
SUPPORT FOR INITIATIVES WITHIN THE COMMUNITY
Avenue: Black Undergraduate Law Internship Program: Avenue is a collaborative effort between Legal Leaders for Diversity and Inclusion (LLD) and the Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion Network (LFDIN) to implement a paid internship program focused on Black undergraduate students who may be interested in a legal career. Avenue is designed to provide Black undergraduate students with real-world legal industry experience and an opportunity to build their resumes and create a professional network. McMillan has committed to provide internships to students.
Black Future Lawyers (BFL): In partnership with other Canadian law firms, McMillan and those firms committed $1.75 million over 10 years to provide operational funding for the Black Future Lawyers (BFL) Program, formed by the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in collaboration with the school’s Black Law Students’ Association of Canada, Black Alumni and the broader legal profession. BFL provides support and engagement opportunities to Black undergraduate students who aspire to become lawyers.
BlackNorth Initiative: McMillan is a signatory of the BlackNorth Initiative CEO Pledge. The BlackNorth Initiative is a group of senior leaders from Canadian companies and organizations who are committed to the removal of anti-Black systemic barriers that negatively affect the lives of Black Canadians. As a signatory to the CEO Pledge, we have committed to increase our efforts to make the firm inclusive, to have difficult conversations about anti-Black systemic racism, to ensure that no barriers exist to prevent advancement of Black lawyers and staff and to meet specific hiring goals for Black students and senior leaders.
Bill 7 Award Trust: McMillan is a proud sponsor of the Bill 7 Award Trust. The Bill 7 Award Trust was established in 1987 to provide post-secondary education scholarships to LGBTQ2+ students who are pursuing a first degree diploma or certification in any Ontario post-secondary institution and are in financial need. The Bill 7 Award was named after the 1986 Ontario legislation that extended the protection of the Human Rights Code to lesbians and gays.
Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL): CABL is a national association of lawyers, judges, academics and law students dedicated to identifying and addressing the professional needs, objectives and goals of black legal professionals and black law students. McMillan has sponsored and participated in CABL events and has member lawyers who have served as mentors to law students through the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada mentorship program. In September 2010, one of our partners, Kathy Martin, was honoured at an event hosted by CABL for being one of eighteen black partners at law firms on Bay Street.
Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL): FACL was founded in Toronto as an organization of Asian Canadian legal professionals and has grown to a national organization with provincial chapters, partnering with other lawyer and like-minded associations on various initiatives. FACL’s mandate is supported by the three pillars of promoting equity, justice and opportunity for Asian Canadians in both the legal profession and the wider community. FACL is an affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), an organization of over 40,000 attorneys. In addition to being a proud sponsor of various FACL events, a number of McMillan lawyers have held leadership positions with FACL.
Indigenous communities; Truth and Reconciliation: McMillan has advanced a number of initiatives to support Indigenous students and communities and to offer learning opportunities for firm members in support of truth and reconciliation. We:
- Provide pro bono legal services to support Indigenous communities engaged in legal and public affairs challenges; we represent female Wet’suwet’en heredity leaders in pro bono human rights complaints
- Sponsor the Indigenous Youth Outreach Program and partner with the Indigenous charity Level Justice
- Offer financial support to Indigenous students with a multi-year commitment to the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia
- Support of Right to Play, which is focussed on improving access to community-led, culturally-relevant, play-based programs in Indigenous communities
- Support Indigenous employees as well as Indigenous students interested in a career in law
- Host learning programs for members of the firm focused on truth and reconciliation, including a keynote by The Honourable Murray Sinclair, former Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a presentation from Nora Stogan, councillor with the Musqueam Indian Band
For its 2021 Annual Holiday Donation Campaign, the firm made donations to Indigenous-run charities across Canada. As we learn from the past and build a better future for all peoples who call the land we call Canada, home, McMillan was inspired to support:
Indspire, an Indigenous national charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people for the long-term benefit of these individuals, their families and communities, and Canada.
Native Women’s Shelter of Montréal / Foyer Pour Femmes Autochtones de Montréal, an Indigenous organization that provides a safe environment to First Nations, Inuit and Métis (Aboriginal) women and children to promote their empowerment and independence.
Minwaashin Lodge Indigenous Women’s Support Centre, a women-led Indigenous organization in Ottawa providing programs and services to First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and children (regardless of status) who are survivors of domestic and other forms of violence, and who may also be suffering the effects of the residential school system.
The Native Women’s Resource Center of Toronto, a gathering place in Toronto created by a dedicated group of Indigenous women who recognized the need to support Indigenous women with housing, community wellness and economic independence through employment, education and training.
Miskanawah Community Services Association, a multi-service Indigenous organization guided by Indigenous teachings that offers various programs and services to people in the Calgary community.
Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA), an Indigenous, youth-driven organization that delivers a wide-range of culturally-responsive and prevention-focused programs designed to meet the diverse needs of youth in Metro Vancouver’s Indigenous communities.
Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion Network: McMillan is a founding member of the Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion Network (LFDIN) and was actively involved in the development of the LFDIN’s Statement of Principles. Law firms in the Network aim to share ideas and work together to promote diversity and encourage a culture of inclusion in their firms and the legal professional generally, to attract and retain the best talent, and best serve their clients.
Please view the LFDIN Statement of Principles
LAWS Project: LAWS is a partnership between the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and the Toronto District School Board to provide education about the law and support to high school students from inner city schools. McMillan is an active supporter and participant in LAWS and annually hosts a group of high school students at the firm to educate them on the various paths to law and what life is like working at a corporate law firm.
Legal Leaders in Diversity (LLD): The LLD is an organization comprised of General Counsel of 120+ leading Canadian businesses and organizations committed to creating a more inclusive legal profession as well as supporting diversity initiatives within their own organizations. McMillan firm members have participated in the LLD mentorship network, have organized events in partnership with the LLD (with LFDIN) and are working with LLD to develop an internship program for Black undergraduate students aimed at introducing and attracting Black undergraduate students to the legal profession.
Level Justice’s Indigenous Youth Outreach Program: McMillan is a proud sponsor of and participant in the Indigenous Youth Outreach Program, which supports and inspires Indigenous youth to achieve their full potential. McMillan has partnered with Level Justice to provide meaningful opportunities for Indigenous students to interact with lawyers who may serve as role models and mentors and help participating students establish skills that will enable them to succeed and prosper. Each year, McMillan hosts students from the First Nations School of Toronto for an education visit at the firm. Students learn about how a large law firm operates, the different departments and roles within the Firm and what services they provide, so that students may gain exposure to the variety of careers available and learn about paths they may aspire to in their futures. We also organize fun and interactive events for the students to make for an exciting visit, including a scavenger hunt/McMillan Amazing Race, a panel presentation and a pizza lunch.
Pride at Work Canada: McMillan is a proud national employer partner of Pride at Work Canada. Pride at Work supports employers in fostering workplace cultures that recognize LGBTQ+ employees as an important part of a diverse and effective workforce and works with employers to develop programs to ensure LBGTQ+ employees are able to achieve their full potential. McMillan’s partnership provides access to Pride at Work’s resources, expertise and support so that the firm can continue fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Please click here for more information about Pride at Work Canada.
South Asian Bar Association and its Local Chapters (SABA North America): SABA North America is an organization comprised of lawyers, judges, academics and law students, which is dedicated to promoting and supporting South Asian members of the legal profession. Several McMillan lawyers are members of SABA and local SABA chapters and have participated in a number of activities and events to foster advancement within the South Asian community including mentoring and networking within the community. McMillan is a supporter of SABA and has hosted SABA Toronto and SABA British Columbia events at the firm and has been a sponsor of events organized by SABA Toronto and SABA British Columbia.
Start Proud (formerly Out on Bay Street): McMillan is a proud supporter of Start Proud, an organization dedicated to connecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally undergraduate and graduate students with employers, while promoting the development of LGBTQ+ professionals, and celebrating the achievements and service of those in the community.
Rainbow Registered: In support of our commitment in fostering a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion, McMillan is proud to have achieved Rainbow Registered LGBT+ Friendly Accreditation. Rainbow Registered is a national accreditation for LGBT+ friendly businesses and organizations. Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, together with Tourism HR Canada, have collaborated to launch the Rainbow Registered LGBT+ Friendly Accreditation Program.
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