‘Demand for gender balance needs to be led by both men and women’
Sasha Kerins. Image: Grant Thornton

‘Demand for gender balance needs to be led by both men and women’

5 Mar 2020330 Views

Sasha Kerins, head of diversity and inclusion at Grant Thornton, discusses why we must ‘continue to focus a light on gender balance’ in business.

As part of its Women in Business 2020 campaign, Grant Thornton has published its International Women in Business (WIB) report. In it, the company provides year-on-year comparisons for businesses working on their diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives, as well as new information on perception gaps between men and women, and a number of success stories from member firms.

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According to this year’s report, 29pc of senior management positions within mid-market companies globally are held by women. More than three-quarters of businesses surveyed have at least one woman in senior management.

In light of the report’s recent publication, we spoke to tax partner and head of D&I at the company, Sasha Kerins. She discussed the importance of studies such as this and how she believes we can accelerate true D&I in business.

What does your role at Grant Thornton involve?  

My day-to-day role as tax partner involves working with a super group of colleagues to help support our clients on their strategic journey. Every day is different as the tax world is constantly changing. In fact, currently we are seeing the greatest level of change in international tax legislation in the last 100 years. Henceone can’t stand still, and you need to be innovating so you can provide the best type of advice when partnering with clients. 

My D&I role within the firm is something I am hugely passionate about and have led since 2016. It has challenged me in so many ways to think about things from various perspectives and be conscious of bringing people with us as we implement changes and new initiatives.  

Was your career path straightforward? 

I think all careers have twists and turns. I have worked in a number of different organisations and I think all have helped equip me with the skills and knowledge that I call on today.  

Is there anything you would tell your younger self, if you could? 

Be kind to yourself and take things in your stride. 

What’s the importance of reports such as Grant Thornton’s Women in Business? 

Reports like Grant Thornton’s WIB report, that have been consistently producing data and commentary in this space for years, are vital so we can encourage transparency and continue to focus a light on gender balance.  

They help to highlight what’s driving change globally on this issue and how organisations are focusing on and willing to invest in order to effect change. 

Was there any such resource that helped you in your career path, or do you wish there had been? 

Harvard Business Review has published articles with interesting insights on D&I and Catalyst has carried out a considerable amount of deep-dive research into gender diversity. 

Do you have any thoughts on how we can encourage companies to be more inclusive? 

Organisations need to see the value this will bring to their people and their customers.

Internally, there needs to be a shift so employees will demand gender balance across the organisationand this needs to be led by both men and women. 

Are there any particular women you greatly admire? 

My grandmother – who is sadly no longer with us but is remembered and quoted to her great-grandchildren often – and Ariana Huffington. 

Both demonstrate(d) resilience, adaptability and open-mindedness.  

Do you have any resources that you’d recommend for other women in business? 

A great book my mother bought for me in 2017 – Beyond the Boys’ Club, written by Suzanne Doyle Morris. It focuses on strategies for achieving career success as a woman working in a maledominated field. 

This book gave me some great ideas, which helped support some of the initiatives we have introduced in Grant Thornton Ireland around D&I. 

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