I am different and proud of it. I am Australian born and of Ukrainian descent. I speak Russian at home and am part of a Jewish family.
If that’s not different, I don’t know what is! As well as identifying with a variety of cultures and religions, I also come from a diverse socio-economic background. My family arrived in Australia as refugees and my mother has always been the breadwinner of the household. All those different influences have provided me with a multidimensional lens on how I look at things, and most importantly, how I interact with people.
What does equity mean to you?
For me, equality and equity are two words with an entirely different meaning. Equality is all about the law. It’s a framework that gives everyone the same opportunities. But that doesn’t mean that everyone has access to them. That’s what equity is all about.
Let me use a real-life example. When a meeting finishes and a plate of sandwiches remains, we might put it on the kitchen counter and say to the team ‘help yourself.’ But if a colleague is a wheelchair user, they might not be able to reach them – so although we offered the sandwiches to everyone, the wheelchair user may go hungry. When talking about gender equity, accessibility is key. It’s very easy to say that promotion is open to everybody. But is it really? In many ways, Covid has been a real eye-opener. When everyone was forced to work remotely during the healthcare crisis, technology enabled working from home, or even from another country. Yet although women and men had equity in access, we saw a huge percentage of women with multiple caring responsibilities (e.g. looking after the elderly, managing the household, raising children) drop out of the workforce. This in turn creates significant economic and social disadvantage. It results in an interesting paradox for equity and women.
What advice would you give to young talents at BDO?
I have three pieces of advice:
- Find a mentor and sponsor, someone that will advocate for you when you are not in the room.
- Don’t put any limits on yourself. Do not make assumptions of what you can or cannot achieve and dare to think big. If there was ever a time to challenge the current norm – it’s now! People are now so open to different ways of working, to diverse talent and different approaches. So do not waste this incredible opportunity to bring new ideas and solutions to the table.
- Finally, be confident in your choices and advocate for yourself. I think as women we are sometimes afraid to ask for pay rises, promotions, time off or a different way of working. Ask yourself this question: What is the risk/cost to me if I don’t ask?
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