A Message from the CEO on International Women’s Day 2022

Today, the Schellman team joins the global community in celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD).

This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias, and we kicked off Women’s History month with an event geared toward that idea last week. Our assembled panel of Debbie Zaller, Schellman COO, Karen Greene, Schellman CPO, and Kersten Zell, Executive Women’s Forum VP, spoke about bias, stereotypes, and discrimination in the workplace while providing ideas to keep our firm and community diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

At Schellman, we believe all differences should be valued and celebrated. Today, we will continue celebrating our own with an internal panel that will share personal and candid stories about bias and overcoming obstacles. The women participating have all worked to inspire and better others in their spare time—you can read about these special people in our IWD newsletter that spotlights their achievements.

The newsletter also discusses how every positive impact matters. That resonates with me personally today, because this is my first International Women’s Day as the CEO of Schellman.

I feel an extra responsibility now because I understand all too well how these words I write and say intersect with the purpose and actions we take as a firm.

Our industry, in particular, remains a male-dominated work environment, and while many firms—Schellman included—have made great strides forward to embrace equity and parity, I recognize that we all have a long way to go.

As a whole, the tech sector needs to double down on what we can do to push for more progress. Because, like many of my colleagues and peers in the accounting industry, I am data-driven, and the data is clear—companies that fail women, fail!

Therefore, we need to be both strategic and tactical in dismantling obstacles that prevent women from advancing across the leadership pipeline. To me, solving this problem has become a personal imperative.  I want Schellman to recognize and take advantage of every opportunity we have to grow and develop as people and as forward-thinking leaders.

So, this is what are we going to do:

  • We are going to prioritize the empowerment of women here at the firm.
  • We’ll continue to bring a diverse slate of candidates to the table and make sure women are given the same mentorship, sponsorship, and resources that will help get them to the next level.
  • We’ll continue to provide mothers (and fathers!) time at home with their children so they come back to the firm feeling confident they can be great employees and even better parents.
  • We’ll continue to expand and diversify our leadership, which will allow us to add different views, experiences, and cultures so that all of us can lead the firm to be better in a way that suits all.

I realize that’s a lot of pretty words, but as I said before, I do understand their weight.

That’s why I can confidently say that, for Schellman, this International Women’s Day is not just going to be a mere twenty-four hours spent celebrating the political, social, economic, and cultural achievements of women.

We pledge to change the story, to represent a shift in the greater paradigm that will help the entire industry take steps forward. We’ll do that by staying conscientious, encouraging honest feedback from all sources, and following through with what we say—that goes for me as well.

With all that being said, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts today on International Women’s Day. At Schellman, we’re celebrating all the incredible women on our team, as well as our clients and those women in all our personal lives, and we encourage you to do the same.

Looking beyond today, I am excited about what we will do together as one exceptional team within the firm – all of us equal to and worthy of the opportunities we have in a way that will make us stronger than our challenges.

About the Author

Avani Desai

Avani Desai is the CEO at Schellman. Avani has more than 15 years of experience in IT attestation, risk management, compliance and privacy. Avani’s primary focus is on emerging healthcare issues and privacy concerns for organizations. Named as one of the 2017 Global Leaders in Consulting by Consulting Magazine she has also been featured and published in the ISSA Journal, ITSP Magazine, ISACA Journal, Information Security Buzz, Healthcare Tech Outlook, and many more. Avani also sits on the board of Catalist, a not-for-profit that empowers women by supporting the creation, development and expansion of collective giving through informed grantmaking. In addition, she is co-chair of 100 Women Strong, a female only venture philanthropic fund to solve problems related to women and children in the community.

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