What is Inclusion Now and how did McCarthy Tétrault come together as a firm to commit to community in this innovative way?

Inclusion Now is a program we launched to advance our diversity and inclusion goals within the firm, as well as in the community. We kicked the program off last year with a $5-million gift to United Way Centraide. This cross-country commitment is designed to help remove barriers for groups who are often left behind in our society. This includes women, members of the LGBTQ2S community, Indigenous peoples, newcomers and those with disabilities. As a firm, we're committed to leading the way when it comes to helping members of the community access the resources they need to succeed and thrive in Canada.

Why is inclusion so important to your firm?

At McCarthy Tétrault, we pride ourselves on taking leadership on diversity. We were one of the first law firms to hire a woman in the 1920s and to invite women into the partnership. Will we ever get to a place where our firm mirrors the true diversity of Canadian society? I'm not sure. But I do know that it needs to look a lot less like me.

What are some of the other ways that McCarthy Tétrault embraces inclusion within the firm?

Gender equality has long been a priority for us. Several years ago, we did a review of our parental leave policies to make sure they weren't creating unintentional barriers for women wanting to advance into the partnership. More recently, we've been focusing on other forms of diversity, such as LGBTQ2S inclusion. We've participated in Pride Day activities across the country for years. In 2014, and then again this summer, we hosted what we called our "Big Gay Party" and invited all of our Bay Street clients to join us. I think it resonates with people when they see the CEO wearing a hot pink boa around his neck. They sort of stand back and say, "Well, he looks like the straightest white dude I've ever seen, and if he's saying that being an ally to LGBTQ2S people is important..."

We also need to do more to participate in Indigenous reconciliation and meet our obligations as articulated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We're working on initiatives aimed at recruiting Indigenous law students and staff, as well as creating a culturally safe environment for Indigenous lawyers and employees at our firm.

What advice do you have for other companies looking to choose a cause to invest in?

Think about who you are as an organization and the social issues that will resonate with your people. Then make a commitment to a charity you're confident can make it happen. We couldn't have launched Inclusion Now with any organization other than United Way. It has a wide enough footprint in communities across the country to have the kind of impact we wanted to see.

Originally published by United Way 2019 Local Leaders List.

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