Director of Diversity and Inclusion, McCarthy Tétrault LLP
Taralyn Parr is a formidable advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within the legal profession. Her relentless efforts have resulted in transformative changes at one of Canada’s leading law firms, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, where she has been an instrumental part of the organization for ten years.
How She Made Change
Alongside the Chief Inclusion Officer, Taralyn developed Inclusion Now, the firm’s comprehensive DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) strategy to recruit, support, retain, and advance individuals from diverse backgrounds. She operationalized the Inclusion Now Office, a stand-alone center of excellence with a firm-wide mandate. Educational programming under her leadership, including firm-wide unconscious bias sessions, has reached thousands of internal and external participants. Combined with a number of inclusive programs, policies, and engagement initiatives, this has resulted in 84% of people at the firm feeling they could be their authentic selves at work.
Analytics and Dashboards
Over three years, Taralyn spearheaded the development of a customized platform to collect, analyze, and report on DEI data. This platform allows the firm to assess their demographic makeup beyond gender and incorporate an intersectional approach and the diversity of client teams. It also integrates diversity surveys into new-hire onboarding processes, achieving an impressive 85% response rate in the 2022 DEI survey. Additionally, she created user-friendly DEI dashboards for senior leaders, making it possible to track against benchmarks across hiring, compensation, promotion, and attrition practices.
In support of gender balance, Taralyn collaborated on recommendations to increase transparency, improve access to clients, and address unconscious bias in partner teams. As a result of these efforts, the firm has seen a 25% increase in women in key client-facing roles.
Taralyn is a driving force in transforming the firm to be more inclusive for trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse individuals. Her efforts involve updating internal policies to challenge cis and heteronormative assumptions, expanding benefit coverage to include gender-affirming care, and implementing inclusive self-identification gender options in internal forms and systems. She created a transition protocol and resources to support individuals undergoing gender affirmation treatment, organized educational sessions on fostering trans and gender inclusivity, and promoted the use of gender-inclusive language within the firm.
Additionally, she co-developed the Action Group framework for Gender Equality, Race, Pride, and Abilities, engaging over 500 volunteer lawyers and staff in supporting these groups’ initiatives. As a result of the Action Group and Inclusion Now, there has been a 20% increase in people self-identifying as allies since 2019.
Influencing Beyond the Firm
Taralyn’s influence extends beyond her immediate work environment. She is dedicated to shaping future generations of DEI leaders, and is advancing DEI-related research through her PhD work. As a Course Director at York University’s School of Administrative Studies, Taralyn teaches courses focused on gender, work, and leadership.
Actions You Can Take
- Set goals and share transparently. Break down each goal into key milestones to track progress.
- Think outside the gender binary, and update systems, policies, and practices to be inclusive of all genders.
Taralyn’s leadership style is marked by two critical behaviours. Her curiosity prompts her to actively listen and understand diverse perspectives, and her courage enables her to speak candidly and challenge longstanding beliefs and conventions, driving necessary change within her organization. Her innovative initiatives and commitment to promoting lasting change make her a true trailblazer and a role model for future leaders.