Caring for people and organizations

Erica O’Malley’s story

Erica O’MalleyI’ve found that if we care for our people, they’ll care for our clients. This belief is what powers Grant Thornton’s culture.

A caring culture is woven through our firm. We began our culture journey 10 years ago, and we’ll never stop. Everyone knows the conduct expected of him or her and how to live our values at all levels. We’re very collegial, with leaders truly caring for our employees and leveraging culture concepts in everything we do.

A celebratory crowd at our Chicago office grand opening A celebratory crowd at our Chicago office grand opening
Our culture makes it easier for younger professionals to approach our leaders for mentoring advice. I’ve enjoyed being a mentor to a number of employees seeking to adjust to life events or advance in their career. I believe strongly in this responsibility. It’s also a way for me to give back to my early mentors who invested in me. My mentors were primarily a host of male leaders; I leveraged aspects of their style that resonated and blended them together to make me the leader I am today.

At the time I joined Grant Thornton, it was fairly rare to be a partner and a mom. I had to learn to be effective in both worlds. It was challenging and gratifying at the same time, and it couldn’t have been done without the firm’s supportive culture.  I was empowered to build a rewarding career while being an engaged wife and mother. 

The O’MalleysThe O’Malleys
The experience proved to me the value of being purposeful about inclusion. When I joined Grant Thornton in 2002, only 8% of partners were women. I became a member of a small team of female leaders who created the Women at Grant Thornton business resource group (BRG). Over the years, we’ve formulated programs that focus on recruiting, retaining and advancing women within the firm — making sure benefits are appropriate and include flexibility in work arrangements. We’ve made a lot of progress; now 20% of our partnership is female, which is consistent with our larger competitors. 

Representing our Women at Grant Thornton BRG at the National Association for Female Executives Representing our Women at Grant Thornton BRG at the National Association for Female Executives
With momentum gained in gender, I expanded our diversity efforts to include many forms of diversity. In addition, as part of the People and Culture leadership team, we led an exploration into our employees’ experiences and perceptions where many employees named being part of a community as one of the reasons for their loyalty to the firm. I understand; it’s essential to give employees opportunities to get involved and connect as they build a career. Women at Grant Thornton continues to be a vital connector, and our other BRGs have piqued employee interest and are gaining similar momentum.

Creating an intentional culture is a focus in organizational strategy, the practice I lead as a Grant Thornton partner. As I assist organization leaders in making change to achieve goals, I advise paying great attention to their people experience through the whole process and allowing plenty of time to socialize organizational change. Conducting a thoughtful change process is an important component of culture that I learned more about as a founding member of our firm’s culture leadership team. If people’s jobs will be impacted by a structural or policy change, we need to help them navigate the change, by being transparent and supporting them through the uncertainty. 

Race Judicata: fundraising for civil legal aidRace Judicata: fundraising for civil legal aid
CycleNation: riding for the American Heart AssociationCycleNation: riding for the American Heart Association
Because of my experiences leading our culture journey and developing communities, I know that a healthy, high-performing culture and an inclusive environment drive strategic results. I assure clients that by investing in culture, as our firm has done, and appreciating diverse points of view, they’ll realize their strategic priorities such as attracting and retaining valued employees. This is the mutually beneficial outcome we enjoy at Grant Thornton. It’s why I encourage my clients, mentees and others to believe in the power of an intentionally shaped culture.