Women at BDO: A discussion with Jacqueline Silva

What is most rewarding about your role at BDO?

There are many things I find rewarding about my role. I enjoy helping our clients get useful data and more time back in their day. There is ongoing learning and development, which continues to challenge me every day, but I have learned to embrace the change.

I am interested in seeing how cloud accounting and automation continue to grow and change in the business space. However, the overarching reward is that I have flexibility in my role, which has allowed me to find a balance between my career and family life.

What progress have you seen on gender equality throughout your career?

For me personally, the mindset of what is expected in many positions has changed a lot since I started my career – and technology has helped enable this.

When I first started working, senior roles were predominately full-time and paper-based work, meaning it was difficult to work from home. For women, having children could cause a large gap in their career path. There weren’t many women with children in leadership positions back then. Things have changed, however; we are now paperless, and the flexibility of working from home is more widely accepted and normalised. There is more focus on individuality in conjunction with performance.

It was inspiring earlier in my career to see more females with families become partners, especially one female co-worker who became partner while she was on maternity leave.

The opportunities for flexibility have helped to remove barriers for returning to work and allowed better work/life balance for parents. This has helped parents decide how they both may wish to pace their careers and share family responsibilities.

Why do you believe gender equality is so important?

It is so important for people’s mental well-being to know they are treated fairly and given the same opportunities. I think having transparency, choices for flexibility, and thought of about one’s individual situation can help immensely with engagement and productivity.

For myself, I have just returned from maternity leave and have a young family. Both times upon my return from maternity leave, I have been able to return at a pace I was comfortable with and had time working at home to be closer to my family.

To have this support and extra time with my family while I continue developing in my career is something I am very grateful for. I am also grateful that my husband has been allowed the same support and flexibility in his workplace so that we can share responsibilities, and both develop our careers without detriment to the other’s.

How has BDO supported your career journey?

I have been lucky to work with a range of leaders within our firm who have given me autonomy and exposure to a range of opportunities. They were supportive of my interest in the cloud accounting space early on, and expanding it to lead into new advisory services.

Open conversations regarding my career and flexibility to have the work/life balance have also supported my engagement and growth at BDO.

What do you think future opportunities look like for females in our industry?

Our industry stands to benefit from advances in technology, which have already started to change the way accounting and business is done. I think women will play an important role, as this change requires difference perspectives and shifts in mindset not only in how we approach our work, but also how we engage with clients.

The global pandemic and developing technology have opened doors to flexibility and working from home that were not mainstream before. Communication and connection are more important than ever, and I think females generally have an inclination towards these strengths.

How would you suggest workplaces break the bias against gender equality?

I believe transparency, communication and sharing stories can help bridge our understanding of others’ perspectives and situations, not only within a firm but across the industry. It is important that people feel as though they are given equal footing to their peers, with the same opportunities. Conscious conversations and open-door policies driven by leadership can encourage this culture, and build more awareness to help break biases. 

Read more stories from women at BDO