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Beyond Good Intentions: Spotlight on Laura Jean McLeod

Tell us about yourself Laura Jean McLeod and your role at Toronto Global. 

My name is Laura Jean McLeod but everyone in the organization calls me L.J. I am the Senior Manager, People & Culture and have been with Toronto Global for 2.5 years now. I oversee employee relations, strategic workforce planning, employee engagement and culture, basically everything that helps our team do their best work. 

What do you love most about your job Laura Jean McLeod 

Where do I start? The people number one for sure – I am inspired daily by our team’s dedication and positive attitude. I also really enjoy the unique network in which we operate. Being part of a government funded agency presents the opportunity to work closely with both the public and private sectors and with a vast range of stakeholders across a variety of industries in the business community. 

I studied psychology in my undergrad and with that a lot of people continue on in academia post-graduation, which I wasn’t really interested in. I wanted to enter the business field and Human Resources is essentially the human aspect of business. It perfectly fits my interests and my background. 

What is a common problem that you ( Laura Jean McLeod) help clients/people solve? 

There are two answers to this question depending on which side of the organization I’m working on. 

  1. People: I’m (Laura Jean McLeod) grateful to be able to solve problems for our people throughout the employee life cycle. From talent acquisition and onboarding to retention, talent development and internal mobility. It’s exciting to dive deep into the employee experience and analyze the engine of our workplace culture. For example, what drives and motivates our team, and how can we innovate as an organization to enrich the employee value proposition? How can we be more transparent, how can we operationalize inclusivity and how do we ensure psychological safety in the workplace?  
  1. Clients: On the client-side, the Investment Attraction team sometimes brings me into conversations with international clients in the early stage of their expansion to the Toronto Region. I ( Laura Jean McLeod) help clients navigate the provincial and federal employment legislation and advise them of best practices to attract and retain talent as they set-up operations here in the Toronto Region. It’s rewarding to play a part in helping to shape the successful foundation of clients’ people and culture practices. 
Tell us what equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) means to you and why it’s important.  

I view equity, diversity, and inclusion as a spectrum of belonging. That is why I prefer to put equity first, because it comes first in the spectrum. Equity is fair treatment, access and opportunity for all people, diversity is the way in which individuals differ; and inclusion is respect, support and removal of barriers, which is well represented in the image below. 

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance,” said professional diversity consultant Verna Myers, current Vice President of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix. 

Beyond Good Intentions: Spotlight on Laura Jean McLeod 2

I think intersectionality is also a vital consideration of EDI. There are many identity markers that have the potential to marginalize people. These markers include race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, religion, disability, and more. There can be overlapping systems of discrimination or disadvantage that interact with each other, which is crucial to understanding a person’s own unique experience and complex identity. These variables aren’t experienced in isolation.  

As a people and culture leader, it’s important that EDI initiatives at an organizational level are not just about performative allyship; good intentions alone are not enough. EDI work must be linked to outcomes and the work is an ongoing journey, not just a “one and done” solution that checks a box. Experimentation is key – you may not get it right the first time, but the organization and its people learn and grow from the experience. Give people ways to engage in DEI work (i.e. the Toronto Global EDI committee is made up of employee volunteers). Leverage power and privilege for good. 

What is your approach to bridging cultural differences in the workplace? 

Having conversations, asking questions, sharing stories and generally being open to vulnerability is a great way to learn more about one another’s cultures and lived experiences. Being genuinely curious helps to build a shared understanding. 

Tell us about a family/community/cultural tradition, holiday, or celebration that you (Laura Jean McLeod) look forward to most each year

I have an annual trip with friends that helps keep me grounded, it is so important to create new traditions and rituals to strike a healthy work-life balance. 

I recently celebrated a wonderful Christmas with my family, which is always an enjoyable time of year for me because it gives me the opportunity to be creative and get crafty. Whether it be making ornaments, wreathes, decorating cookies or making a gingerbread house – or some A-frame gingerbread cabin variety in my case – it’s fun to have a small artistic outlet! 

Where/what is your favourite place/memory in the Toronto Region (Laura Jean McLeod), and why?  

I ( Laura Jean McLeod) have very fond memories of biking in Tommy Thompson Park, it acts as a great escape from city life without actually having to escape it. Biking through Tommy Thompson, you would never guess downtown is right around the corner. 

Another area I admire is Parkdale. I lived there when I first moved to Toronto and many of my early Toronto memories are of Parkdale, a wonderfully diverse neighbourhood with one of the largest Tibetan populations outside of Asia and some delicious momos! 

Tell us something that most people would be surprised to learn about you Laura Jean McLeod 

I am a thrill seeker! I love adventures of all kinds, whether it be sky diving, solo travelling, or anything else of that nature. I appreciate experiencing the world of radical self-reliance and accomplishing what I put my mind to. 

What’s your personal mantra or favourite quote?  

“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” ― Timothy Ferriss. If you want to talk to Laura Jean McLeod, feel free to contact us any time.

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