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Our flexible culture helps create balance

Rachel Wojtkun’s story

RFP
Rachel with babyStaying active is possible because of the flexibility I enjoy in my job.
The flexibility in my days at Grant Thornton is unprecedented, irreplaceable and my favorite aspect of our culture.

We have so much opportunity and latitude. An example of this is that during my seven years here I’ve worked in offices in three states, with each move for my family and not a work-required transfer. The firm helped make those moves seamless, so that I progressed in my career every time. And across the regions, the culture is the same — based on open communication, honesty, acceptance and flexibility. My colleagues are friends who care about me as a person. And I’ve been free to craft my career. I’m a manager in Audit Services, performing and overseeing financial statement audits for our clients. Every day is different, and I’m challenged to be my best, which is what I like most about my work.

I learned a lot about the incredible value of flexibility when I came back to work after the birth of my son. I worried about not seeing very much of him, given his bedtime right after dinner. But it wasn’t an issue after all. I left work early, then worked a little in the evenings, after he went to bed. There’s still no rigmarole to go through when I want to update my work hours. No one questions my schedule. Being trusted to get my work done is what allows me to do what I need to for my family.

Casimir is 16 months old now and back in daycare. But from March until June, he was with my husband and me as we worked full-time from home. I had flexibility in my schedule then, and I still do. On mornings when I’m delayed in getting Cas to daycare and not online at my usual time, it’s fine.



I was honored to be named Grant Thornton’s 2020 Working Mother of the Year. In the recognition in Working Mother Magazine, I was asked to provide advice in balancing a busy life. Here’s what I said:

One of my mentors told me at the end of each day she thinks about what she accomplished that day and what she prioritized. Did she feel good about those things? If not, what can she change tomorrow? I find myself using this often. If work needed to be prioritized today, family can be prioritized tomorrow. If I don't feel good about the priority choices I made today, rather than dwell on this, I make a change to fix it for tomorrow.



My team and I are adaptable with scheduling. To set clear expectations for Audit’s busy season, we planned for my availability and theirs. Because of this, I was able to spend time every day with my family and still handle weeks of heavy workloads.

Flexibility is the key to doing what you need to in your job — and to take on extra activities, which for me has meant leadership in two business resource groups (BRGs). In the Women at Grant Thornton BRG, when I was national coordinator, I led in carving out our highly popular Working Moms Committee to create the Working Parents & Allies BRG.

Baby with LaptopMy co-workers make my day, though most of them are remote.
With support from the diversity and inclusion team, our BRG had its kick-off call last summer. Hundreds of parents attended. As national coordinator, I hosted an open forum, and the questions, struggles and ideas poured in. Armed with this and continuing feedback, I’m in touch with the firm’s top leaders, who want to know what working parents are up against at this unusual time. I’ve been afforded the chance to collaborate directly with these leaders to make change quickly for what people need right now.

Given the COVID-19 environment, one of the things we were able to help with was back-up childcare days. We heard that the standard back-up days were used in the first weeks of the pandemic as people tried to adjust. We took that to leadership and the benefits team. Almost immediately, parents were provided with three additional weeks of back-up care. We also worked on a tutoring benefits initiative, which has been launched; we’re planning virtual activities for a bring-your-kids-to-work day, and we participate in webcasts covering such needed-now topics as virtual learning. To make sure our members are aware of firmwide support, we communicate leadership’s fluid response to all employees’ pandemic-related challenges; everyone has access to expanded counseling and dinner delivery benefits to help with mental and time pressures.

I’m proud of the ways that our BRG is assisting in a lengthy crisis. But the biggest contribution I have made over the past year as a working parent might be setting an example for my team members. Although many of them do not have kids, the concept of managing your personal and work life is not just for parents. It‘s for everyone. The flexibility exists, and my hope is that through my example, others can embrace it, as well.