A Day to Recharge and Reflect: BDO USA CEO Wayne Berson Shares His Thoughts

A Message From BDO USA CEO Wayne Berson

The deaths of George Floyd and so many other Black Americans, and the social unrest that has followed, have laid bare the profound and complex issue of race relations in our country. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world around us—claiming countless lives and wreaking havoc on our families, our communities, our economies, and many of the simple pleasures we once took for granted. In this moment, as we navigate these two crises, our role as a firm is clear: we must support our people, we must support our clients and we must make a positive impact on our communities.
At BDO, our values are rooted in the way we treat one another. We have always said that our business, at its core, isn’t about clients won or dollars accounted for. It’s about helping people thrive. And today, we all need to help – help support one another, help reset, help spur change. 
Over the past several weeks, I, along with other BDO leaders, conducted listening sessions with professionals across our firm and with members of BDO’s Multicultural Alliance. We sought to understand more about the experiences of Black professionals at BDO and how we can strengthen the firm’s culture of diversity and inclusion.
What we heard underscored that each of our professionals has been touched by these concurrent crises in profound, yet uniquely personal ways. As we confront the systemic racism in America, and re-examine our own beliefs and biases, many are eager to help bring about the change they’d like to see. At the same time, questions about health and safety, finances, education, travel, and other important aspects of life persist, and have heightened already elevated levels of stress and anxiety.
After careful reflection, BDO’s leadership team felt it was necessary to collectively step back from our daily work to take stock of the historic change we are experiencing as a global community.
On August 21, BDO is taking a Day to Recharge and Reflect. Business will be closed for the day in order to provide our people with the time and space to do what will be most meaningful and valuable to them—whether that is taking time to learn more about the antiracism movement, participating in a community service project focused on advancing social justice, or practicing much-needed self-care.
I plan to use this day to reflect on the history of injustices against the Black community and explore how I can best help foster a culture of even greater tolerance and acceptance. I know I speak for the entire BDO Executive Team when I say that we are steadfastly committed to that goal. We have long been dedicated to creating an inclusive culture at BDO. We’ve made progress, but we know we must do much more.
Recent events have made us critically examine our role in the current system of racial injustice — as well as our potential to be part of the solution. We are working hard to build on the progress we’ve already made, by implementing a more robust and sustainable strategy that is consistent with our culture of empowerment, excellence, empathy, innovation and accountability.
In the days and months ahead, we will be examining BDO’s recruitment, hiring and mentoring practices; increasing awareness and dialogue on issues of social and racial justice; and facilitating more open and ongoing communication around our goals so we can continue to share ideas and learn from one another. We are taking a thoughtful and collaborative approach to incorporating input — and sharing accountability — across the firm, including at the highest levels of leadership. We are committed to extending these efforts beyond just our firm, to include a focus on advancing social justice in the communities in which we live and work.
We must do this not only because it will help us continue to fulfill our core purpose of Helping People Thrive Every Day, but also because it is simply the right thing to do.
I am excited about the ideas and insight that will come out of our Day to Recharge and Reflect. I look forward to continuing to explore and build on them in the days ahead. I am confident that we will return to work with renewed strength and purpose, knowing that this day marked the beginning of a future where we all do better.