Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2022) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2022):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 11, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why McCarthy Tétrault LLP was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2022) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2022):
- In recognition of the unique circumstances employees are managing in addition to work responsibilities over the past year, McCarthy Tétrault continues to support a variety of alternative working arrangements, introduced access to virtual health care services, increased its mental health practitioner benefit (from $1,000 to $2,000), and expanded the eligible expenses for the annual wellness benefit to include a wider variety of items to support mental and physical health, including athletic footwear and Apple watches
- McCarthy Tétrault starts the majority of its new employees with three weeks of paid vacation, with management and legal personnel starting with four weeks -- and the firm also considers previous work experience when setting vacation entitlements for experienced employees
- McCarthy Tétrault reimburses a portion of eligible expenses incurred for wellness and fitness activities and items, including sports programs, personal wellness, dietitian services, and even shared commuter bike rentals (to name a few) -- the subsidy ranges from $550 for employees, up to $4,000 for partners
Wellness is a key focus at McCarthy Tétrault
At McCarthy Tétrault LLP, the mental health and wellness of its people – lawyers, students, paraprofessionals and members of its service teams – is paramount.
Barbara Boake, national people and practice leader, says the firm is committed to building a culture that encourages people to share their experiences and seek support for their challenges, while reducing stigma and increasing action regarding workplace mental health.
The firm provides programs such as bereavement leave, compassionate care leave and wellness benefits in order to support employee wellness. It also recently started providing access to virtual healthcare for employees and their families through an app, which includes virtual medical appointments, home-delivered prescription medication and psychotherapy services.
“Ours is a profession with unique stressors,” Boake says. “We also know that happy people take fewer sick days, are more creative and innovative in their work and derive greater satisfaction from the work they do.”
Addressing mental health is not just for the sake of productivity, Boake adds. “Our commitment to wellness is about empowering our people to make the decisions that are right for them.”
This commitment includes offering employees choice regarding their work patterns with a range of flexible options, including staggered start times, part-time reduced hours, unpaid leaves of absence and reduced workload where possible.
CEO Dave Leonard says this dedication to employee wellness extends to the firm’s commitment to equity and inclusion. “Our commitment to equity and inclusion is about making sure all of our people are comfortable bringing their full selves to the workplace,” Leonard says. “Accepting and embracing our differences is about more than committing ourselves to being a safe place to work and grow, it’s about ensuring that all of our people can flourish.”
The firm’s Inclusion Now program, created in 2018, aims to attract, retain and advance members of equity-seeking groups including Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC); members of the LGBTQ+ community; people with disabilities; and women.
In addition, more than 540 members of the firm have volunteered for one of its action groups – Pride, Gender, Race and Abilities – which run initiatives to educate employees and invest in community agencies to support equity-seeking groups across Canada.
“We want current and future firm members to see themselves represented in our ranks,” Boake says. “We want our people to feel that they have a community of peers who have experienced life in the same way they have. Equity and inclusion are our way of proactively ensuring the mental well-being of all equity-seeking groups.”
Firm-wide mentoring is another way employees receive support. The professional mentor program pairs a second- or third-year associate with a senior associate or partner. The mentor assists with the associate’s integration into the firm and provides guidance on the practice of law and office procedures.
The career mentor program pairs a partner with an associate approaching their fourth year of practice, with a focus on aspects of creating a successful career, such as how to attract and retain clients and build industry expertise. The firm has also introduced mentoring programs for associates who identify as diverse and for members of professional staff teams.
“Our collective success is a function of each individual thriving in the workplace,” says Leonard. “Our programs have evolved from being an extra benefit to becoming the cornerstone of our firm’s business strategy – one of our five strategic pillars: investing in our people.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2021):
By Kristina Leung and Stephanie Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 1, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why McCarthy Tétrault LLP was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2021):
- McCarthy Tétrault maintains an annual internal pipeline scorecard to track gender demographics of partners, associates and students as well as statistics on advancement to partnership, lateral hires and departures -- and recently integrated inclusion performance metrics into the firm's annual review process (employees report on their inclusion contributions during annual reviews and are compensated for their contributions)
- McCarthy Tétrault has made significant strides to increase gender diversity internally -- women represent over 50 per cent of C-suite roles, over 40 per cent of the firm's broader leadership team, and approximately 55 per cent of the firm's associates
- In 2019, McCarthy Tétrault renewed its partnership with The Martin Family Initiative for Indigenous students, a nationwide program to improve education for Indigenous children -- McCarthy lawyers and staff act as mentors to Indigenous students in Grades 9 to 12, and remain with them through the duration of high school
Everyone’s perspective is valued at McCarthy Tétrault
After George Floyd’s death in May 2020, Dave Leonard, the CEO and a partner at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, a national law firm with a Toronto head office, sent a firm-wide email expressing his sadness and reaffirming the firm’s commitment to standing with the Black community. That message had a powerful impact on legal assistant Coleen Lambert.
“I contacted Dave after to tell him that I really appreciate the way he uses his platform to bring awareness to racial injustice,” says Lambert. “He’s the face of McCarthy Tétrault, and the fact that he leads by example speaks volumes about the culture of the firm. I felt empowered and comfortable enough to reach out to him personally.”
In February 2020, Lambert participated in a panel during an event that launched the firm’s race action group. She was joined by 15 colleagues, including partners, associates, counsel, students and staff, who shared their experiences navigating race in the workplace. “There’s always an opportunity for me to say what I need to say because I have a voice here,” she says.
During the panel, Lambert shared an unsettling experience she had at her previous workplace, when a colleague said her natural hair wasn’t professional. “I love my big, curly hair, and at McCarthy’s I don’t have to hide who I am,” she says. A few months later, Lambert was invited to sit on the steering committee for the firm’s race action group, along with partners and associates at the firm.
Leonard has put a strong emphasis on bolstering McCarthy Tétrault’s diversity and inclusion efforts, to ensure that all firm members can bring their full selves to work. In 2019, he launched a ground-breaking initiative called Inclusion Now. It’s led by a full-time chief inclusion officer, Nikki Gershbain, and supported by an inclusion office that has the equivalent of four full-time employees – a first for a Canadian law firm.
“It’s the right thing to do,” says Leonard. “Inclusion Now resonates with our people, prospective talent and our clients who share our values. We recognize that we will be a stronger firm if we do more to reflect the diversity of the legal profession and workforce.”
In addition to race, the firm has launched pride, gender equality and abilities action groups, which together boast over 540 volunteers – the equivalent of one third of the firm. Even as most of the firm has been remotely working, the Inclusion Now office has offered regular inclusion educational programming, including on anti-Black racism and Indigenous cultural competency. In light of the pandemic, it has also increased support for United Way, donating millions to agencies and programs supporting equity-seeking groups across Canada.
“We knew we couldn’t afford to let the pandemic slow the momentum of Inclusion Now or the positive impact it’s been having on our firm,” says Leonard. “A lot of the discussions we’re having are uncomfortable but absolutely necessary – we’re providing a vehicle for change. Inclusion Now is building a more diverse and inclusive firm, while deepening our client relationships and the impact we’re having on our communities.”
Leonard is inspired by the way the firm has adapted this past year. “Our people have really stepped up – they’re resilient and creative, and an extraordinary example of commitment, professionalism and community. It’s truly the people who make me so proud to work at McCarthy Tétrault.”