Pride Month: BDO professionals share their perspectives

Pride Month has been recognized for decades, with its roots dating back to the Stonewall uprising of 1969. As we honor and reflect on the past, it is important to recognize that LGBTQ+ individuals still face discrimination within society and the workplace. While this month is a time to celebrate, it is also a time to create awareness, understanding and an appreciation for what it means to be LGBTQ+.  

Throughout June, BDO’s Pride Alliance is celebrating by hosting national and local events, as well as a discussion exploring the history and meaning of different types of Pride-related flags.
Four BDO professionals share what Pride Month means to them and what it is like to be an LGBTQ+ professional in the accounting industry:
 
Sam_Web.png JEFFREY BARON
Tax Partner and National Pride Alliance Leader

 

What does Pride Month mean to you?

While the political meaning of “Pride” is as critical as ever, it is also a deeply personal event. Pride is the opposite of shame. While guilt is a signal regarding something we do, shame is a wholesale condemnation of who we are. That difference couldn't be more important to understand. For those of us who have lived with a wholesale condemnation of a profound part of who we are — through no choice of our own — Pride Month is more than an annual celebration, it's a daily practice. It’s a reminder when we look at ourselves in the mirror ― we can make the courageous choice to leave shame behind and instead to walk in the possibility that all of who and what we are can be beautiful and powerful. This month is a reminder to me that I am not alone in wanting that courage, and a call to those who can be allies to join us in our struggle.

BDO's core purpose is "helping people thrive every day." This celebration is a way to cultivate the conditions for thriving among those with diverse sexualities or gender identities.
 

How has being LGBTQ+ in the accounting profession changed over the course of your career?

I was not out for the first part of my career. It did not occur to me then that I could show up as myself at work and have a hope of progressing in my career. Living with that contradiction was deeply painful. You can understand that I sometimes find it uncanny to be in this role. So, I've lived through some dramatic changes in my career. It's humbling and exciting to work with my Pride Alliance colleagues to make sure that the experience of my early career is impossible for anyone at BDO today. 
 
 
Sam_Web.png MEGAN EAKES
Tax Experienced Manager

 

What does Pride Month mean to you?

Pride Month has been so important in my life. Growing up with two moms and knowing at a young age I was a lesbian, I have always enjoyed this month’s celebrations and honor of the struggles that many in the LGBTQ+ community have endured to get where we are today.
 

What do you appreciate about BDO’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion?

For me, it really reflects the amazing culture at BDO. I am so thankful to be part of a firm where we embrace everyone for who they are and treat each other like family.
 
 
Sam_Web.png DIPIKA NAGIN
Assurance Senior Manager

 

What does it mean to you to be an LGBTQ+ professional in the accounting industry?

The accounting industry has historically had certain stereotypical connotations. Being an LGBTQ+ member, a person of color and a woman that is scaling the corporate ladder, I am proud to break that very old stereotype. The most meaningful part is when I have an opportunity to mentor others in the LGBTQ+ community and help them grow in this career as well.
 

How has being LGBTQ+ in the accounting profession changed over the course of your career?

I have seen a lot more professionals be out at work, although I still think there is room for improvement, nationally and internationally. Personally, the more established I have become in my own career, I have moved closer to my authenticity. In the beginning of my career, I felt I had to earn some credibility before I could be myself. It would be great if our new professionals can experience coming into the industry and feeling that way immediately.   
 
 
Sam_Web.png MATTHEW SIGMUND
Industry Specialty Services Director

 

What does Pride Month mean to you?

Pride Month is a celebration of diversity, inclusion and equal rights. It is about remembering the hard work, commitment and suffering within the LGBTQ+ community that was required to get us to where we are today and also realizing that the work is not yet done.
 

How has being LGBTQ+ in the accounting profession changed over the course of your career?

When I first started out, there were few (if any) LGBTQ+ people who were out in my workplace. At times, it could feel a bit isolating and I did wonder if coming out would have a negative impact on my professional growth. Over the past few years, I think we have made progress toward building a more inclusive workplace — in particular, here at BDO. 

One aspect that can still be challenging to navigate, at times, are client perceptions. While the vast majority maintain professionalism, it only takes one offhand remark to make you feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. This can be especially challenging in a professional services setting where winning work and generating revenue are important for the firm’s success.
 

Celebrate all month long with BDO’s Pride Playlist

BDO’s Pride Alliance has created a Pride playlist on Spotify made up of submissions from our professionals.