From left: Robert Riecken, Kay Gray, John Harris
Grant Thornton LLP shares how a focus on community separates the firm from the competition
As a company owner, how do you choose one professional accounting firm over another?
Does size matter? How about reputation? Or perhaps it’s how well the organization treats its employees and clients and whether they engage with local communities.
Grant Thornton LLP is a leading Canadian accounting and business advisory firm, providing audit, tax and business advisory services to both the private and public sectors. Like many other big firms, they offer the same services, however, their approach is what sets Grant Thornton apart.
Over the last few years, they shifted their focus, such that the Three Cs — clients, communities and colleagues — formed the basis for internal discussions relating to strategy, resourcing and business development.
“We shifted our mindset to a value-oriented one, creating a more collaborative approach with our clients,” explains partner and markets leader Robert Riecken. “When developing our new strategy, we solicited our clients. We hosted a number of breakfast think shops and asked them to provide us with feedback about what their needs were.”
The firm called upon small to mid-sized multi-nationals and non-profit organizations. After compiling their findings, Grant Thornton’s three Cs were solidified and became the basis for the firm’s new strategy.
In keeping with its mandate to offer excellence in customer service, the firm collaborated with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to launch the Private Business Growth Awards in 2014. These awards recognize and celebrate the achievements of Canadian-owned private business successes.
When it comes to the firm’s commitment to communities, tax partner Kay Gray began the process by asking employees from across the country, most notably the younger generation just starting out in their careers, what they found meaningful in their work lives.
“We found that many of the people wanted to use their skills in the community,” notes Gray. “We decided to set up a national foundation so that all employees could participate.”
In 2011, the Grant Thornton Foundation was established. After surveying several charities, the firm opted to focus on three primary organizations: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, and the Breakfast Club of Canada.
“We connect our people with a buffet of volunteer opportunities,” says Gray, who was recently nominated for a 2017 YWCA Women of Distinction Award. “For example, with the Breakfast Club of Canada, we’ve committed to supporting five Canadian elementary schools (in B.C., it is Grandview Elementary). We provide a monthly breakfast and our employees help the chef prepare the meal, serve and clean up,” she explains.
Besides its commitment to volunteer for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada (BGCC), the Foundation went one step further— instituting five $4,000 scholarships for BGCC alumni to pursue a business-focused degree. These are just some of the examples of how Grant Thornton has weaved Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into the fabric of the company.
“For Grant Thornton, success means engaging our clients, communities and colleagues,” explains John Harris, Managing Partner, South Coastal BC. “Helping our colleagues thrive is something we work towards every day. We’re focused on helping our people get comfortable with change, with reinventing ourselves, and with empowering an inclusive, innovative culture committed to shared leadership.”
It’s no wonder Grant Thornton has been recognized as one of Canada’s best workplaces for the 10th consecutive year.