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EY exec: Mutual respect, tolerance foster best work culture

Chrisee Dela Paz
EY exec: Mutual respect, tolerance foster best work culture

Alecs Ongcal

Ernst & Young's Beth Brooke-Marciniak shares how the mega-accounting firm built an enviable work culture, plus her career journey as a gay woman in corporate America

MANILA, Philippines  Operating in over 150 countries and managing around 200,000 associates, Ernst & Young Global Limited banks on “tolerance and mutual respect” to sustain a united and enviable company culture, its global vice chair for public policy Beth Brooke-Marciniak said.

“We have core values in EY (Ernst & Young). Those values sometimes may come in a little bit of contradiction with some countries. But what we have is mutual respect. We are respectful of differences,” Brooke-Marciniak said during the Forbes Global CEO Conference 2015 in Manila on October 13.

Ranked No. 100 on the Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful women, Brooke-Marciniak has been a champion of inclusion and diversity in workplaces.

Glaring personal issue

She told the audience of #FGCEO2015 how she navigated her career and her own challenges in coming out as a gay woman in corporate America.

“The most glaring personal issue is LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights. Being gay myself, there is nothing more important than recognizing abuse,” Brooke-Marciniak said.

“There is nothing more important that I can do than to be out in countries that are less socially tolerant and to be seen interacting with them and show that we are in the same team. There is nothing more powerful in a work culture than that,” she added.

For the Ernst & Young executive, building and sustaining a winning culture can be tough.

“Corporate giants may think that there is not enough time, as they concentrate on creating products, improving services, boosting finances. But honestly, this (mutual respect) is key,” Brooke-Marciniak said.

To be respectful, Brooke-Marciniak said, corporate leaders have to be authentic. “With authenticity, more employees will believe you and through this, you can unite and work as one.”

“Here in Asia, we have such respect for seniority. Being a senior and out and gay executive, it transformed me. They respect me. Many of our employees in Asia now, they are now much more comfortable and united,” she added.

“Because they said to themselves: ‘If she succeeded of being who she is, then I will succeed on being who I am,” Brooke-Marciniak told the over 400 corporate executives attending the Forbes conference.

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