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In the Nation's Interest

Advancing Women in Corporate Leadership Spotlight: Grant Thornton LLP

1. What are GT’s Business Resource Groups, and how do they help fulfill GT’s mission in this realm?

A Business Resource Group (BRG) is a group of employees from various service lines, career levels and job functions who assist Grant Thornton in cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture where all perspectives are valued and heard. All employees are invited to join a BRG as an executive sponsor or member — regardless of their personal backgrounds and ethnicity. BRGs are employee-driven and supported by the national Office of Diversity & Inclusion as enablers of our overall diversity and inclusion strategy and drivers of our business and recruitment and retention. Joining a BRG is an engaging way to network with colleagues, develop leadership skills and contribute to the firm’s strategic drivers (growth, operations, clients, people and brand). 

Nationally there are eight BRGs: African-Americans & Allies, Diverse Abilities, Equality GT (LGBT) & Allies, Hispanic/Latinx & Allies, Millennials & Allies, Pan-Asians & Allies, Veterans & Allies, Women & Allies. 

The Business Resource Groups are directly aligned with Grant Thornton’s strategic drivers for success:

  • Growth: Diverse service teams lead to new opportunities for revenue growth because they reflect the growing diversity of our clients.  Diversity of thought, background and experience are also key attributes.
  • Operations: Diversity in project teams boosts problem-solving and increases financial performance.
  • Clients: Diverse teams deliver stronger, more creative solutions to enhance our clients’ experiences.  We promote diversity across client portfolios indicative of offering multiple service lines (audit, tax and advisory) to our clients to promote a holistic portfolio of offerings.
  • People: Policies that promote diversity and inclusion enable companies to attract, engage and retain talent, thereby minimizing employee turnover and reducing costs.
  • Brand: Diversity enhances our global reputation as an influential and socially responsible firm.

Individual BRG micro-strategies and activities align to one or more strategic drivers and the overall firmwide diversity and inclusion strategy.  Each member of the firm’s Senior Leadership Team is also aligned to an individual BRG as an advocate.

2. Are there any daily practices GT employees engage in that advance diversity and inclusion? 

At Grant Thornton, our culture is a strong differentiator for us with our people and in the marketplace. Over the years, our culture has not been an outcome of our success, but something that has fueled our success. We dedicate a substantial amount of time and money to ensure our colleagues understand our culture and how it impacts everything we do as a firm. As part of the foundation of our culture journey, we have defined culture concepts that everyone in the firm understands and learns.  A culture that we are proud of and believe in. These concepts include “thinking drives behavior”, “accountability ladder”, “be aware of your filters”, “all styles get results”, and many more. Diversity and inclusion is a key underlying theme that connects these culture concepts together.

To help emphasize these culture concepts and ensure that colleagues are thinking about them every day, we start all our large meetings with a brief culture conversation about one of our concepts. Additionally, teams participate in individual team based conversations on a monthly basis.  From these conversations, insights are gained by our colleagues regarding how their actions, attitudes and behaviors impact others and the firm.

3. For companies that have yet to establish a set of D&I practices, what steps can they begin taking? 

For diversity and inclusion practices to be truly successful in an organization, the senior leadership of the company needs to truly “establish the tone from the top” and believe in the impact that a diverse and inclusive workforce can have.  One way Grant Thornton engages our senior leadership is by having each of our CEO’s direct reports aligned with a Business Resource Group that they engage with and are partially responsible for the success of the BRG’s goals (purple chips) for the year.

Another key for establishing diversity and inclusion practices, is first analyzing the current state of an organization. Understanding what the company’s strengths and opportunities are will help to foster the creation of a diversity and inclusion strategy that is action oriented towards actual challenges the company is facing. Aligning the diversity and inclusion strategy directly to the company’s strategy will help everyone in the organization better understand the business and personal impact of the diversity and inclusion practices.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to have honest conversations. At Grant Thornton, our African-Americans & Allies BRG was inspired by Mellody Hobson’s “Color Blind or Color Brave” TED Talk to implement our own version of Color Brave conversations in the workplace. Companies that directly address diversity and inclusion challenges and don’t shy away from having the difficult conversations in the workplace will be more successful with implementation and sustainability of their diversity and inclusion practices.

4. What innovative benefits does Grant Thornton offer to its working parents? 

Not only do we strive to be an industry leader with our culture, but we also look at benefits that enable our employees to balance their work and life as best as possible, enabling them to bring their whole selves to work. We currently offer several unique benefits and programs specifically for working parents. The first benefit is Talking Talent Online, which is an online coaching program for working parents (both primary and secondary caregivers) and their managers. This coaching tool from Talking Talent Inc., a market leader in parent transition and progression coaching, helps new and expecting parents and their managers prepare for a successful transition to and back from leave. The platform also allows for working parents to connect with others to share their experiences and best practices.

Our newest benefit offering is breast milk shipping. We recognize that traveling for work as a new mother can be challenging, so to help make it a little easier Grant Thornton covers the cost of breast milk shipping while traveling for work. Finally, one of our more established programs is Mentor Moms, which is our own home-grown program to help guide new mothers through the transition to maternity leave and back to work. It is designed to provide a connection to another Grant Thornton professional who is also a mother and can provide guidance, insights and advocacy as they make important decisions about their careers. This program includes a comprehensive guidebook that includes tips, strategies and best practices.