How BDO is supporting #balanceforbetter this International Womens’ Day

How BDO is supporting #balanceforbetter this International Womens’ Day

BDO partner Ruth Ireland talks about how BDO is supporting #balanceforbetter this International Women’s Day, and what the firm’s ‘Inspire’ network is all about

How BDO is supporting #balanceforbetter this International Womens’ Day

Gender balance is such an important issue that is now rightly in the spotlight, not just for the financial services sector but across all industries.

With gender pay gap reporting now a requirement for all companies of a certain size, it is more important than ever to be transparent. This year we are pleased to say our gender pay gap improved. However we recognise that as a firm, a profession and for society as a whole, there is still a long way to go.

At BDO we know our gender pay gap is there because of an imbalance of males and females in senior and junior positions, rather than two people of different genders being paid differently in the same role. This is one of many reasons why the phrase #balanceforbetter is so important.

So, what are the steps BDO is taking to create a more balanced environment?

Last year, we signed up to HMT’s Women in Finance Charter and pledged to commit to four industry actions in order to improve our gender balance. This includes having one member of our senior executive team who is responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion; in our case this is Paul Eagland, our Managing Partner.

We have created a long-term action plan called ‘BE INSPIRED’. This includes regular analysis of our talent pipeline and formal, active sponsorship of future partners to ensure that we keep improving our diversity. It also includes working with external networks on gender balance. We have long been supporters of the 30% Club who run a number of initiatives – including a great mentoring programme – to broaden the pipeline of women at all levels, from “schoolroom to boardroom.”

Our BE INSPIRED plan also includes the day-to-day operational shifts we can – and do – make. The ‘people policies’ we offer at BDO are a factor in enabling a more balanced workplace. Policies such as parental leave, ‘keep in touch’ days, and flexible working are all designed to allow people to better manage their responsibilities outside of work, whether this be childcare, care of elderly parents or similar situations.

The Inspire Network

You’ll have noted by now that I use the word ‘inspire’ a lot. Which is why it’s also the name of our network that supports gender balance throughout the firm. This group is made up of almost 300 employees and partners of any gender, who arrange and attend skill-based events across the firm.

Many of the members of this group are mentors to other individuals throughout the business. Having listened to our teams, we know having visible senior role models in the business is a critical factor in building a balanced firm for the long-term, where people can succeed.

To mark International Women’s Day, the Inspire network hosted an event focused on ‘How to build gravitas’. It allowed people from all levels to learn how to become a better communicator and acquire the skills that pave the way towards gravitas and personal and professional ‘presence’. I am pleased to say, as one of the speakers at the event, that it was a major hit with a lot of extremely positive feedback and a jam-packed auditorium!

Our event reminded us that communication is key. We encourage honest and open conversations throughout the firm and share stories that will inspire others. For example, we have a number of female partners who have been promoted either just before or even when on maternity leave – including myself, eight years ago. My fellow partner, Wendy Walton, has toured the country to share her personal story of moving from a school leader to a member of our Leadership Team; and she’s received so many emails of thanks and others’ stories. These stories demonstrate that ‘life events’ needn’t be a barrier to climbing the career ladder – and sharing them internally makes a huge difference.

Other examples of these stories include positive shared parental leave experiences, where dads in our organisation have shared their experiences of taking a prolonged period off work to spend with their family. These stories help not only spread the word about what policies we have as a firm, but also reinforce that we actively encourage a culture where people can ‘be themselves’; that’s business-critical for us.

These are all tangible actions captured in our BE INSPIRED approach, helping us to progress towards a #BalanceForBetter. So we encourage you to join BDO not just today, but the other 364 days of the year, in creating a #balanceforbetter.

 

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