A chance recommendation from a neighbour first led Dentons Partner Michael Schafler to TRIEC Mentoring Partnership, but Dentons’ ongoing involvement with the program reflects its long track record of being at the forefront of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace.
“TRIEC Mentoring Partnership is one of the most important programs in Dentons’ Toronto office that engages all of our team members and lines up with our strategic objective to give back to the community,” says Schafler. “It’s a really proud moment in your career to know that you have made a difference in someone’s life,” adds Schafler. “The program is also really perspective building and gives you a different outlook on your professional and social life that you might not get otherwise. There is of course a real business element to the program – you are exposed to a much larger talent pool and you can expand your business network.”
Dentons, which was then Fraser Milner Casgrain (“FMC”), first joined TRIEC Mentoring Partnership in 2008. Since then, 57 Dentons employees have volunteered as mentors for over 100 skilled immigrants. When FMC combined with two other law firms to create the Dentons global firm, TRIEC Mentoring Partnership remained consistent with the firm’s strategic objectives.
“One of the strategic guide posts for our global firm is to be ‘in and of the community’” says Schafler. “TRIEC Mentoring Partnership allows us to assist and to build connections with highly skilled individuals who often go on to work in companies throughout the GTA. Those connections help us build our networks in the community and they have the potential for business benefits among other positive impacts.”
Schafler attributes the success of TRIEC Mentoring Partnership at Dentons to senior management buy-in. “The active involvement and support of Chris Pinnington, Dentons Canada’s CEO, in driving the firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion broadly, and involvement in The Mentoring Partnership specifically, is so important,” says Schafler.
When asked what his advice would be for other employers considering joining TRIEC Mentoring Partnership, Schafler listed the two elements that are core to Dentons’ success in the program: make it a part of your strategic objectives and get senior management buy-in. “But,” Schafler added, “know that there is flexibility in the system and a great team at TRIEC to make it work for you.”