Founder EOS Deal Advisory
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Cultural change: The market is ready, are you?

Maggie Brereton, who left KPMG over bullying concerns, writes about why the profession needs to shift away from the culture of presenteeism and the expectation of long hours.

8th Oct 2019
Founder EOS Deal Advisory
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Canary wharf skyline at dusk

As Ina Kjaer and I announced the creation of our new company EOS Deal Advisory, with a focus on a cultural shift from long and unnecessary hours to smarter ways of working, we knew the market wanted change. But as we started seeing the thousands of messages arrive from all over the world, we began to realise how ready it was.

Clients, employees, board members, journalists, and many others have reached out and expressed our shared views on how unsustainable the work in our industry currently is. There must be a different way.

Delivering high quality and insightful advice is always going to be the goal. The challenge is: do we always focus on what actually matters and do we really understand the key questions to answer? We need a diversified team, who are clear on their role and have a high level of trust in each other to overcome this challenge. 

The culture shift is not only about limiting "all-nighters" per se. In deals we all understand the need for extra input at crunch times. However, the culture of presenteeism and the expectation of long hours are not constructive or sustainable. In fact, people outside our “deal bubble life” often question me on how effective I can be doing over 80 hours a week!

After the recent press articles, people have asked why we are focused on women and minorities - we are not!  We are aiming to build a better work environment for all. We are focused on inclusion. It does not work to hire women, minorities, or others if they are not able to thrive in the organisation. The diversity of thinking is critical to attaining better results, but are we recognising and rewarding it?

Our work is to find solutions to complex financial problems.  Won’t we be much better at it if we:

  • Bring people with different perspectives and life experiences together to do it.
  • Promote real inclusion of various team members whoever they are as we work on solutions.
  • Use available technology like automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning as enablers to deliver better solutions quicker.
  • Provide a better life to all of us, allowing us to do the work we really enjoy but not to the exclusion of all else, such as our family and social lives or anything we value and want to spend our time on.

The changes we are making are obvious. And yet, companies in the accounting industry struggle with them.

The difference in the current cultural evolution (revolution?) is that "normal" citizens like us got tired of waiting for corporates to change and decided to do it ourselves. We hope that this will make the change inevitable in companies in our industry and incentivise other “normal” citizens to do it.

The workplace can be more compassionate and productive. The market is ripe for change. Are you ready? Join us in this conversation.

Replies (2)

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By sculptureofman
09th Oct 2019 10:27

I work in tax and I've always thought that the people who stay in the office all hours are either bad at their job or are trying too hard to impress management, and nothing in my 20 years has made me think otherwise.

If you can't get your work done during (reasonably) regular office hours then you need to re-think your role.

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Replying to sculptureofman:
By Joe Alderson
10th Oct 2019 09:17

Or you are being overburdened by your manager/work requirements. I certainly think there are some people out there who drag their feet during working hours and then try to claim overtime, or just are bad at managing their time, but in my personal experience a lot of it also comes down to management and pressure.

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