The past few months have been a significant period for inclusion, wellbeing and sustainability at BKL. Here’s an insight into some of what we’ve done.
1 April 2022 marked an exciting new chapter in BKL’s 42-year history when FSPG Chartered Accountants merged with us.
Now based together at the BKL office in North London, we’ve made a combined team of over 200 people including 20 partners.
When it comes to mergers, an announcement and a first-day welcome aren’t the end of the story. Here are some comments from new colleagues about their BKL experience since April:
‘The atmosphere in the office is one of productivity, excellence and warmth; the opportunities for the future are awesome.
If things continue how they have begun then I am confident that, in BKL, all clients and colleagues from FSPG have found the right “forever house” and I am excited for what may come.’
– Jason Samuels
‘BKL has been very welcoming. Soon after we started, we were invited by one of the managers to join his team for dinner.
Likewise it was lovely to see an email from a new colleague regarding Eid. These small efforts make a huge difference in making us part of this team.’
– Benazir Dadabhoy
This week, we’ve been pleased to welcome the latest group of new graduate and school/college leaver trainees to our Assurance and Advance Business Services teams. We have a range of opportunities across BKL: you can find them here on our jobs page.
Whole firm day
Our long-awaited whole firm day in May was the ideal opportunity to make new connections and renew old ones.
The morning was all about exploring BKL’s values – as presented on our revamped vision and values page. We collaborated on 18 collages (mood boards) and presented them to the rest of BKL: board meetings with a difference! It helped us to appreciate that our values reflect how we interact with each other, how we work with clients and how we conduct ourselves.
After lunch came our guest speaker Maggie Alphonsi MBE, with personal insights into leadership, teamwork and overcoming adversity in the world of professional rugby.
With Maggie’s inspiration fresh in our minds, we tackled a series of team games based on The Crystal Maze. We rounded off the day with barbecue food and ice cream.
There’s more about our merger and our whole firm day in our new magazine Discover.
On our travels
While our whole firm day was local with an internal focus, we’ve also been thinking globally.
Joining AGN International in early 2020 made BKL part of a global association of accountancy and tax firms in over 80 countries. Covid restrictions meant we had to wait a while for the opportunity to meet many of our fellow members in person.
At recent AGN meetings in Minneapolis and Berlin, we were warmly welcomed by other AGN firms, physically met those previously only spoken to over Microsoft Teams, and forged new relationships. With many of our clients looking to expand overseas, the strength of our relationships with these firms is ever more important.
We’re looking forward to continuing these conversations, and starting new ones, at the AGN World Congress in Athens in November.
Over the summer, a colleague at fellow AGN member firm Leonard Curtis played on our cricket team (more about that below).
Art and eating
Although we enjoy our AGN get-togethers abroad, we also appreciate the new experiences we can have together in our office.
In July, a floral painting session helped us unlock our creativity and use painting for wellbeing. Putting the art into chartered accountants!
Later in July came an annual highlight: our multicultural lunch. From shakshuka to samosas; paneer to pastries; chicken curry to courgette cake.
One of our first-time diners and contributors, Simon Stock, commented:
‘It provided an opportunity for us “newbies” to spend some time with colleagues that we would not necessarily get to meet on a normal basis. The range and diversity of the food was fantastic and a HUGE thank you to all of the “chefs” within the firm.
One of the first things that you notice when you walk through the doors at BKL for the first time is the diverse mix of staff. This is what “makes the firm work” and creates the great working environment that we are all able to enjoy.’
Charity and sport
As the icing on the pistachio and courgette cake, our multicultural lunch raised money for Save the Children. More recently, we raised money for men’s mental health charity CALM by taking part in the Business Fives London football tournament.
Playing football in a heatwave is like a mental health struggle. Trying to do your best and keep your energy under conditions you can’t control; knowing when to trust others to support you.
Our sporting events this summer have ranged from other corporate leagues (Last Man Stands’ London cricket) to informal get-togethers (netball on Wednesdays locally).
What’s important to us
We are always keen to hear from our colleagues and recently we conducted a wide-ranging survey within BKL. It included a very open question ‘What’s important to you?’
The top five responses were:
- Work-life balance
- Financial security
- Cost of living
Health made up a whopping 35% of the overall responses and was consistently at the top by gender and for those over 45. This is perhaps consistent with the rhetoric in the news about people having put less focus on their own health during the pandemic and recognising that now is the time to prioritise dealing with both physical and mental health concerns.
Time featured heavily both in relation to enjoying family and non-work activities that bring balance and perspective to our lives. We saw lots of comments about sabbaticals and learning new things. As you might expect, planning from retirement featured in the top 5 of those aged over 45.
The past few years have been detrimental to financial confidence and our survey showed that financial security and cost of living are of great concern to our people. Perhaps unsurprisingly this was especially evident amongst women and our younger colleagues at the start of their careers.
Happiness did not feature in the top ten when we looked at the overall results for BKL. However it did feature very prominently in those over 55.
What did we conclude from this?
- It’s a new world where employees have very different expectations and needs
- Our comprehensive medical and mental health support benefits and training are highly rated and used
- Emotional intelligence and empathy in an inclusive leadership are more key than ever, adapting to each individual’s needs and aspirations
- We will continue talking and learning so as a business we can proactively evolve and adapt, proudly eschewing time-honoured ways of thinking and working to meet the rapidly changing world head-on
Inclusion, wellbeing and sustainability are works in progress at BKL but enjoyable and rewarding ones. Look out for more updates in the coming months.
To find out more about the progress we’ve made, explore the articles and videos on our Being BKL: Inclusion page.