Women at BDO: A discussion with Sunita Popp

What is most rewarding about your role at BDO?

The most rewarding part of my role is working closely with my colleagues and clients to arrive at the best solution for all parties involved. I also enjoy working in a team and collaborating with both team members and clients. BDO also offers me the opportunity to work in a flexible arrangement that provides an enjoyable work-life balance.

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

In the early days of my career, I saw fewer women in senior management roles, but this trend is changing and evolving. I think it is excellent for young women joining the workforce to see women in these positions. However, we do have a long way to go, particularly because there are many very talented and competent women out there.

Why do you believe gender equality is so important?

I believe in gender equality as different genders bring different perspectives, ideas, and innovations to provide a better solution. Everyone needs to have an equal opportunity, and a fair go, regardless of what gender they are. I have personally experienced this at BDO, which makes me proud to work here.

It is also important because representation matters! We have young graduates coming through, and when they look at senior women in leadership, it helps them aspire to reach that goal and know it is attainable.

I would like to inspire other women, including my daughter. To give them a pathway, showing that it is possible to achieve your dreams.

What value do you think women bring to leadership?

The BDO value Heart really stands out to me, so does empathy and creativity. Women in leadership bring diverse thinking and boost collaboration across the organisation.

Have you ever had to overcome gender bias? If so, how did you tackle it?

I have had to overcome gender bias, as sometimes you are not heard or taken seriously. To overcome this, I think back that I am running my own race and I make sure I still stand by my values and do the right thing by everyone and the firm.

How has BDO supported your career journey?

BDO has supported my career journey by giving me the opportunity to take on challenging assignments, through training and career progression, and by being in a role that is dynamic and evolving.

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

I think the gap between male and female leaders and partners will reduce in the future because initiatives, awareness, and gender diversity is on the rise. With ever-increasing demand and reliance on corporate reporting requirements, the need for accountants continues to grow, and hence there will be more opportunities for women in the profession.

What should be done to increase awareness of the need for equality in the workplace? And how would you suggest workplaces break the bias against gender equality?

To break the bias and increase awareness of the need for equality, employers should ensure they have more women representation in management and leadership roles. This can be beneficial in female graduates seeing the opportunities for them in their firm.

We also need to educate our leaders on unconscious bias and understand the difference of how women and men work (i.e. just because a woman says she doesn’t think she is ready for a promotion, doesn’t mean it is true) so they can recognise in themselves where it is happening, leading from the top.

We can also break the bias by changing how we speak about parental roles and how we welcome women or men back into the workplace after having children. This can be done by encouraging or giving men the opportunity to take more parental leave to break down the gender roles at home, which will translate to different workplace attitudes.

To stand up for our peers, we can also push back against clients who display gender bias and put policies in place to protect them.

Lastly, we can educate everyone that it is okay for male leaders to mentor junior female staff. They can take them for a drink, out for lunch, socialise with them at work events, or banter in the office. We need to start treating each other equally to break the bias against gender equality.

Read more stories from women at BDO