One of the most important factors that accounting graduates utilize to determine which firm(s) would be the best fit for them after graduation is company culture. Which is why earlier this year we began a series showcasing individual firms, showing what makes them unique in their mission and values to set them apart. In the past few months, we featured an interview with Jim Proppe, Managing Partner at Plante Moran and Jen Wyne, Executive Director of Human Resources at Moss Adams. This month we’re excited to feature Mike McGuire from Grant Thornton.
Grant Thornton LLP is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International, one of the world’s largest independent audit, tax and advisory firms – growing sixfold in 15 years. Mike McGuire, CEO, has worked to instill the passion, curiosity, and fresh thinking that would distinguish Grant Thornton to clients as a firm that goes beyond status quo approaches to do whatever it takes to move clients forward. This has not only increased client quality and satisfaction, but has enhanced brand reputation and improved employee recruitment, engagement, and retention. At the heart of Grant Thornton’s company culture is a “bring your whole self to work” philosophy intended to inspire an atmosphere that empowers the firm’s more than 8,000 employees to be their authentic selves because they know that their unique contributions are valued.
Roger CPA Review: Grant Thornton has been named as one of the “Top Places to Work” in a couple different publications. What is it about your company culture that sets you apart from other accounting firms?
Mike McGuire: We decided about six years ago that we wanted a single, unifying culture for our firm, and that we would be very deliberate and thoughtful in creating it. We hired Senn Delaney, the firm that really created the corporate culture industry, to help guide us. We’ve invested in our culture work consistently, with time and budget. That commitment, from the top and through the organization, has brought our culture to life in a way that’s different from other firms. It’s about collaborating, respecting and supporting each other so we can deliver quality and innovative solutions to our clients.
RCPAR: Where does Grant Thornton draw its company culture inspiration from? How much do you take into consideration employee feedback and generational differences?
MM: One thing we’ve learned is that we need a clear vision and strong leadership to build culture, but we can’t impose culture on people. Culture is strong when it grows organically. We have a shared set of values, and a shared language about behaviors that reinforce the culture we want. But every day, the culture grows when leaders and teammates throughout the firm make it real in the way we work together and treat each other.
RCPAR: Grant Thornton has also been listed as one of the best companies for working mothers. Can you please share specific strategies and initiatives that have resulted in this recognition?
MM: We have a generous benefits package to support new moms and dads. But more than that, we take a really flexible approach with all our people. Everyone has their own complications in life, and we’re very proactive in helping people find the best ways to balance taking care of business at work and at home. For example, our Flexible Time Off policy lets people take time off work without counting days. The policy is, simply, be responsible for getting your work done and adding value, and take the time off you need to balance your life.
RCPAR: To what level does diversity play a role in enabling the firm to thrive? For other companies or organizations looking to incorporate diversity in a more prevailing way, what would your best piece of advice be?
MM: My experience is that teams are at their best when everyone has a chance to play and contribute and thrive. We create better solutions for our firm and for clients when we have diverse voices in the room – whether that’s diversity of background, gender, race/ethnicity or any other kind of diversity. Diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of our culture, and we support them in a lot of ways. We have Business Resource Groups that provide support and networking opportunities for teammates. We host “Fearless Conversations” to build awareness and understanding about teammates’ diverse experiences and perspectives. And we’re in the process of developing a series of development opportunities about “unconscious bias,” to help us all better understand how to listen and learn from one another, and work together to achieve the best results. My advice is, if you want the best team, and you believe diversity and inclusion are part of that, it’s like any other business goal: You have to be deliberate, have a plan, focus and execute.
RCPAR: How has your culture and all of the above accolades and initiatives translated to your client serving success?
MM: This is the most incredible thing to me. We started our culture program for ourselves. But it turns out, no one appreciates it more than our clients. They notice that we show up differently from other firms. They see that we’re better at collaborating, that our people are more curious about their business, that we offer more creative solutions to their business challenges. I’ve had clients tell me that they will give Grant Thornton their business on the condition that we come and talk to them about culture. That tells me all I need to know.
RCPAR: If you could sum up Grant Thornton’s company culture in one word or phrase, what would it be and why?
MM: Our rallying cry in the market is, “Status Go!” That means we don’t settle for the status quo – we’re always pushing each other to be curious and creative, to innovate, to find a better way to do things – for our firm and our clients. That’s what our culture is about – achieving our aspiration to be the “firm of the future” by collaborating and supporting each other so we can do our best work together.
Special thanks to Mike McGuire for the time he took for this interview about company culture at Grant Thornton.