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The corporate DEI advocate

Maya Toussaint, BA 05
November 6, 2023
By Samantha Rideout, GrDip 10

Portrait of a smiling woman with black and orange thick-framed glasses and a purple shirt.

A self-described “nerdy extrovert,” “big-hearted human” and “lover of animal videos,” Maya Toussaint is open about who she is. Her career centres around making it possible for others to feel comfortable being their authentic selves at work, too.

Currently the senior manager of Global Social Purpose at the Canadian legal software company Clio, Toussaint previously held recruiting, employee-experience and DEI leadership roles at Amazon, Shopify, Rio Tinto and LinkedIn. Along the way, she co-founded Concordia’s Black Alumni Network.

Drawing on these experiences, she has provided freelance training and facilitation services for more than a decade. Clients say she excels at handling sensitive topics and eliciting thoughtful engagement from participants.

The value of belonging

“If organizations have diversity, equity and inclusion then belonging is arguably at the centre of that Venn diagram. If people feel they belong, it leads to all kinds of great things. They’re more engaged, more creative and they stay longer.”

Making workplaces work

“I’m cognizant that I work for large companies where there’s very mixed feedback about how they are as employers. My work is part of the effort to improve employee experiences. For instance, I help recruiters and hiring managers become aware of their unconscious biases so they can give more opportunities to folks who wouldn’t normally get them. Ultimately, I want to make positive impacts wherever I go.”

On DEI as a learning process

“Nobody can be a perfect ally for every community, because there’s too much to learn. But we should keep striving. I have lived experience, but I can’t speak on behalf of all Black women, for example. I need to listen and learn from many different voices, including those that speak to intersectionality. I recommend consuming media by folks who are not like you, whether that’s a book by a trans author, a podcast by an Indigenous broadcaster or something else.”

Passionate about

“I love learning about different wine producers and their histories. When I travel, I try to go to a wine-producing region. I even did a few sommelier certifications, just for the knowledge and for hosting occasional tastings with friends.”

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