Prideing with PRISM: Q&A with Cass McPhee, the Co-Founder of PRISM at Moneris

Prideing with PRISM: Q&A with Cass McPhee, the Co-Founder of PRISM at Moneris

May 27, 2024 By: Niyati Budhiraja Calculating time...

Happy Pride y’all! June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community's diversity, resilience, and right for equality. 

Here at Moneris, we're proud to have PRISM (People Respecting Individuality and Sexuality at Moneris) as our vibrant Employee Inclusion Group (EIG) dedicated to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for our 2SLGBTQIA+ colleagues. Founded on the belief that everyone deserves to feel comfortable and celebrated for who they are at work, PRISM helps ensure the 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals have equal opportunities to thrive in their careers at Moneris.

This Pride Month, we are proud to sit down with Cass McPhee, co-founder of PRISM, to discuss all things rainbow (PRISM). Read on!

Prideing with Prism: Q&A with Cass McPhee, the Co-Founder of Prism at Moneris

What does Pride mean to you?

Cass- Basically, it means it's an opportunity to celebrate how far we've come, but also to remind ourselves that we still have a lot of work to do. That's what I would say, Pride is to me.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

Cass- It's funny because I never really experienced Pride Month before I came to Toronto. It was always like you might have one weekend that's devoted to it. The idea that there's stuff going on for several weeks, lots of excitement, is fun. It's a lot. I don't always have time for everything, but there are a few events that I always try to do every year. One of them is very cool. It's at Ripley's Aquarium in Downtown Toronto. It's called “Welcome to the Aqueerium. It's an event that takes place at night. They have music playing and sometimes have drag shows, and it's full of people buying drinks, hanging out by the fish, dressing up and their fun pride outfits. It's just a really good time.

What is PRISM?

Cass- PRISM [People Respecting Individuality and Sexuality at Moneris] is an EIG [Employee Inclusion Group] at Moneris. It's a grassroots group that is here to support and create an environment of welcome and inclusion for the 2SLGBTQIA+ people. 

We started late 2022 and got our feet under us in 2023, trying to make sure people know we exist. We've had a couple of in-person events just to give people the opportunity to come in and meet people face to face. We've brought in a speaker-- Cheri DiNovo who is a former MP for Ontario. She's been in various levels of politics, and she's put through a lot of bills to support 2SLGBTQIA+ rights. It was great to bring her in and get a sense of that history to build more knowledge and keep the conversation going.

Prideing with Prism: Q&A with Cass McPhee, the Co-Founder of Prism at Moneris

What is your role in PRISM?

Cass- I'm one of the co-leads. I founded it along with my colleague Pao-Lan Ladouceur, who lives in Montreal. The two of us head up the core team essentially and we've got a few other people who are supporting us. We're always looking to bring more people into the core team so that we've got a good number of people to help drive our initiatives.

How many people are there in PRISM?

Cass- The whole group right now is about 50 people. Some people are there to support and cheer us on, and some like getting involved in organizing events

What does PRISM do to foster a sense of belonging for 2SLGBTQIA+ employees at Moneris?

Cass- I think it's mostly just knowing that there are some people that you can go to, to talk about things that you might not be able to with every person on your team to understand where you're coming from. If you have a concern about something or maybe your kid is trans and in school, you're worried about changes that are happening in legislation around what pronouns they can use at school. Maybe your team members won’t know how to help you but want to support you, so there comes PRISM. You can reach out to someone in PRISM to talk to or ask any questions. They can pull in some resources to offer you support.

Can you describe a specific instance where Moneris PRISM's work had a positive impact on a 2SLGBTQIA+ employee at Moneris?

Cass- There was somebody who had some questions about the way that our benefits cover certain things that would be relevant to a transgender person. PRISM helped them find answers and helped make everything a little bit better for that employee.

What are some of Moneris PRISM's current goals for fostering a more inclusive workplace at Moneris?

Cass- Right now, our main goal other than building up our Pride celebrations, is to improve the ability to look for resources whether you're a team member or a team lead. We’re building an internal landing page where one can find ways to support their team. For instance, if a team lead wants to support their team member in changing their name or updating their pronouns, they’ll be able to find resources regarding the process on this landing page.

Prideing with Prism: Q&A with Cass McPhee, the Co-Founder of Prism at Moneris

What are some of the biggest challenges Moneris PRISM faces in achieving its goals?

Cass- The biggest challenge is pulling people together because we work in a hybrid environment where people are working in different locations. We want to make sure that we're supporting everybody in Moneris no matter which location they're working from, whether they're in one of the big three offices where there are a lot of people or if they're out West and they don't have as many people that they're seeing in-person. We want to make sure that people still feel like they're part of the group. And it's always challenging to achieve that.

What can allies do to create a more inclusive workplace for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community?

Cass- Honestly, one of the biggest ones is, to use your pronouns when you're introducing yourself in a meeting or something like that. This creates the space where we make sure that we're on the same page. And it always feels good to me when somebody who I know as an ally starts off a meeting, gives their pronouns, sets that precedent, and then everybody else does. 

Does PRISM host any events or programs throughout the year? 

Cass- Pride is the big one this month. We’re organizing a volunteer day with the 519, a Toronto organization providing support to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. We're going to have some internal opportunities to drop in and talk about pronouns. And we're going to have in person gatherings too. 

What is PRISM’s plan for next year?

Cass- Next year, I'm going to be handing off the leadership reins to someone else so that it's not the same person who is driving everything and to make sure that other perspectives are getting in there to keep things fresh. I'll still be in the core group to support, but it's going to be somebody else's baby next year. Next year, I will see in what different ways we can grow.

Prideing with Prism: Q&A with Cass McPhee, the Co-Founder of Prism at Moneris

What message do you have for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community this Pride Month?

Cass- My message is we need to make sure that we don't start to get complacent. To remember how much work it took to get to where we are now and that we do have the strength and the community to keep pushing forward and keep making sure that everybody is safe and can be themselves.

We believe that diversity and inclusion are essential for fostering creativity, innovation, and a strong company culture. PRISM plays a critical role in achieving this by creating a welcoming environment where everyone feels valued and respected, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

This Pride Month, we celebrate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and the positive impact PRISM has at Moneris all year round. To learn more about PRISM and Moneris Employee Inclusion Groups, visit our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion page.


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