Choose to Challenge: BDO celebrates International Women’s Day

Over the last year, women have been forced to continuously adapt. The challenge was most acute for working parents, but it was often working mothers who bore the brunt of the change. When businesses and schools closed due to the pandemic, suddenly the pressure was on to simultaneously fill the role of parent, teacher and employee all within the confines of the home. As a result, women left the workforce in staggering numbers and those who remained faced an incredibly difficult balancing act.

We are approaching the one-year mark of the pandemic, yet these challenges are still reality for many. It will take time and action across our businesses and institutions to truly undo the damage.

This year’s International Women’s Day campaign theme #ChoosetoChallenge is one that we are proud to celebrate. Our core purpose is Helping People Thrive Every Day, and that includes challenging bias and inequality, celebrating women’s achievements and working together to create a more inclusive world.

As the pandemic has ushered in evolving challenges for women, BDO remains committed to supporting our women professionals and driving their success. Our women’s inclusion strategy offers women and male allies at all professional levels the opportunity to support each other, speak candidly and share advice about real business issues through professional development activities, networking and peer mentoring circles.

We’ve always been proud of our flexible work culture, but BDO has also instituted multiple options to allow women, men, parents and non-parents to address urgent priorities during the pandemic, including temporary or long-term schedule reductions, extended leaves of absence and a PTO-sharing program. We are committed to finding solutions to help our people thrive not only during this challenging time but in the future.

BDO Global’s International Women’s Day Report features insights from professionals on how the pandemic has impacted them both personally and professionally, as well as examples of initiatives and their impact across the globe.

Although there have been many challenges, this year has demonstrated the strength and resilience of women. We’ve also seen women rise to new heights, including the country’s first woman Vice President. Below, hear from three newly promoted partners who reflect on their experiences over the past year and share what the future might look like for women professionals.
 

Professional Headshot of Haley Dobre, Tax Partner Haley Dobre
Tax Partner


In the U.S., the pandemic has disproportionately affected women, especially working moms. How have you managed work+life over this past year?

I am grateful to say that juggling work and my 5-year-old son’s schooling has not been as cumbersome as for many families out there. He’s been attending school in person since the fall. Even so, it takes a village! I’ve relied heavily on my spouse — who is also a full-time professional — babysitters, friends, parents and neighbors to help bridge the gap while I’ve been busy going through the partner admission process, busy seasons and helping to build our relatively new practice.

This past year has seen a number of women rise to new heights. With your recent career milestone in mind, how do you think we create a world where there are no longer glass ceilings to be broken, but women in these “higher” roles is just the norm?

I think it is key that the women who do break through and achieve those milestones continue to hold themselves to a high standard and do not rest. Yes, you made it, be proud of yourself! But it’s important to never settle, remember your journey and recognize that there is always room for improvement. Continue to model what a great leader can look like for all of the women — and men — coming up behind you, because they are watching. We can share our stories to inspire, lean on one another when we run into the inevitable roadblocks along the way, and urge our male counterparts in leadership to join us in the effort to encourage diversity at the top.
 

Professional Headshot of Divya Gadre, Assurance Partner Divya Gadre
Assurance Partner


This past year has seen a number of women rise to new heights. With your recent career milestone in mind, how do you think we create a world where there are no longer glass ceilings to be broken, but women in these “higher” roles is just the norm?

I think it takes a village to get there. We have made some great strides but have a lot more work to do. Leaders — both men and women — should find opportunities to coach young professionals. Mentoring and coaching are powerful tools, and we can make an immediate impact by leading by example. I also encourage young professionals to seek this coaching and be engaged in this process. If we want something to be fixed, we need to become part of the solution.

In the U.S., the pandemic has disproportionately affected women, especially working moms. How have you managed work+life over this past year?

I think my planning and organizational skills have gone to the next level during this phase! My and my BDO team’s day, my spouse’s day and my kids’ days are fully planned out. Personally, my husband and I put together written daily schedules for our kids that they can read. Professionally, I don’t start a job without a game plan in hand, and I motivate our senior associates and managers to think through that so that they can manage the workflow with the client. It is easier to tackle a situation if you have a plan of action ready! Also, do not underestimate the support system around you (in my case, my husband, my nanny, my family and my BDO family) to help you get through phases like these. Ask for help — both personally and professionally — and make your life a bit easier.
 

Professional Headshot of Kelli Olson, Tax Partner Kelli Olson
Tax Partner


What does International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month mean to you?

To me, it is an important day and month to actively reflect on how far women have come by recognizing and celebrating women’s prior achievements and contributions and the impact they have made. In addition to looking back, it provides a time to intentionally challenge gender bias and inequality that still exists in today’s world. While I believe there are so many amazing accomplishments we have to celebrate, International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month are great reminders to stay focused on what each of us can do to continue the momentum toward gender equality in all parts of life.

In the U.S., the pandemic has disproportionately affected women, especially working moms. How have you managed work+life over this past year?

The past year has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging years of my career. With two young children at home and a working spouse who also is a CPA, the pandemic upended the routine we had built to historically manage work+life. Ultimately, it became clear that communication was the key to creating different ways to manage the new work+life challenges: communication at home to develop a schedule to cover work responsibilities and being with the kids during the periods without childcare or school, communication with my teams to ensure they had the support they needed while I was working non-traditional hours, communication with clients as they navigated the pandemic, and finding creative ways to continue to communicate with those in the community when face to face was less of a viable option. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the support of BDO leaders as I navigated these new challenges, and my hope is that we can make real progress on gender equality so that a future event like this pandemic would not disproportionately affect working women and mothers as we saw over the last year.