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McMillan LLP fosters a supportive culture with social events, such as a sports-themed Mix and Mingle.Provided

Recruited by a former colleague to work at McMillan LLP, Nardiya Shageer began as a document support specialist in the business law firm’s Toronto office. She quickly moved up to team lead, and is now working with her team across Canada as national team lead and workflow co-ordinator.

“My friend said, ‘Come and work with us at McMillan. I know you’ll be a great fit,’” says Shageer. “She told me there are many female managers and great parental leave.” Her friend set up the interview and Shageer got the job.

“The more I work here, the more I get out of it,” says Shageer. “I’m constantly given the opportunity to step up.”

When Shageer started at McMillan LLP, she had transferable skills, but since then she’s upskilled considerably. She took courses in communications, then set her sights on becoming a chartered professional accountant. Shageer says she knew she wanted something more, and she knew there would always be an opportunity to move within the organization.

“The minute an employee proposes an education program, they’re supported by everyone here,” she says.

Part of the support Shageer receives at work is provided through one-on-one mentoring with her manager. And she, in turn, provides mentorship to her team. “We also have check-in meetings, town hall meetings and opportunities to dialogue with lawyers. We’re seen and heard.”

“At McMillan, we take responsibility to provide pathways for our employees to move forward in their careers,” says CEO Tim Murphy. “One encouraging result is that 70 per cent of our managers are women.”

McMillan has a job board to advertise in-house opportunities, and Murphy says it is important for the firm to be open to honest conversations about next steps in an employee’s career, even if they don’t involve McMillan.

“We have a former partner and an external consultant that employees can turn to for a confidential dialogue and advice about their career. We want people to be able to leave and come back,” says Murphy.

Shageer finds the environment at McMillan supportive and flexible. Employees can often work from home, as long as they are able to offer the same client service, are available for group training opportunities and contribute to the team culture of the organization. To encourage this culture, McMillan has organized ‘Community Days.’ Employees come together on Tuesdays for meetings and social events.

Another opportunity to collaborate is through networking groups made up of members from different practice areas. Shageer belongs to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Group, which is currently working with her on an EDI day for her team.

“My team will be able to hear from speakers within the organization as well as experts from outside of the firm, and we’ll use what we’ve learned in our planning,” she says. “We want everyone to feel comfortable bringing their full self to work.”

At McMillan, the inclusive culture extends to the community. Shageer says that employees are often involved in fundraising projects for a local charity, such as Second Harvest in Toronto or a local chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society. And even when she is engaged in a local Greater Toronto charity initiative, everyone everywhere gets involved.

“The camaraderie here is wonderful,” she says. “I’m encouraged by my work with a firm that values and supports employees as well as clients.”

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