Advocating for Equality
PROVO, Utah – Jan 30, 2023 – During Kate Toronto’s first day of classes at the BYU Marriott School of Business, she watched in awe as Marcy Fetzer taught a class on human resources. Toronto says that was the first time she saw a woman with a PhD teaching at the university—growing her family and her career at the same time.
That experience gave the 2016 human resource management (HRM) alum the confidence to dream big with her education and career goals. “That moment impacted me powerfully because it gave me permission to be the smartest I could be and to earn the highest level of education possible,” Toronto says. After graduating from BYU Marriott, Toronto attended Columbia University where she received her MA in psychology in education and completed her graduate research on LGBTQ+ Latter-day Saints.
Learning from professors such as Fetzer broadened Toronto’s perspective and laid the foundation for her career in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Now the DEI manager at Guidewire, a global tech company, Toronto appreciates the vital role her professors at BYU Marriott played in her career growth. “A lot of my professors provided me with sponsorship and advocacy, and without their support, I wouldn't be where I am today,” she says. Her professors helped Toronto land her internship with NuSkin, which led to her first job after graduation.
While Toronto worked at NuSkin in the human resources department, the company started to consider diversity and inclusion initiatives. Because of her research on diversity during graduate school, Toronto, at the request of her boss, put together a DEI proposal for NuSkin. After that, DEI work quickly became her full-time job.
Toronto ultimately left NuSkin for Guidewire because she was curious about the differences in DEI conversation in a global tech company versus a local Utah space. “I wanted to know how diversity conversations shifted region by region across the states, and then nationally, and then globally,” Toronto explains. “Problems around racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism persist, but the conversations often differ depending on the community.” Currently, Guidewire’s headquarters are in San Francisco, but Toronto works remotely from Washington, DC, as senior manager of DEI.
At Guidewire, Toronto helps the company react to shifting consumer demographics by diversifying customer and employee experiences accordingly. “In my work, I often ask, ‘How is our consumer base expected to change, and how should we shift as a company in order to meet that?’ That is a fun conversation to have because it’s grounded in supporting human diversity,” Toronto says. She believes an important piece in creating widespread social equity and belonging is to first get it right at work.
Designing intentional systems to help a more diverse array of people succeed at work drew Toronto to studying HRM. At BYU, Toronto says she spent most of her time figuring out where she belonged. “A lot of college felt like a professional existential crisis for me where I often thought, ‘I don't know what I want to do,’” she says. In the end, Toronto chose HRM to encourage workplaces to create spaces where people felt like they could belong.
Toronto credits professors such as Fetzer for helping her carve out a place for herself at BYU. Fetzer strengthened Toronto’s belief in herself and what she could accomplish. “She was incredibly generous with her time, and those discussions absolutely impacted the trajectory of my career,” Toronto says. Similarly, Toronto strives to create space in her life for conversations that help people recognize their full potential at work and in their communities.
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Liesel Allen