Celebrating Women – A Q&A with RSM’s Dara Castle
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION |
In recognition of Women’s History Month (which takes place in March of each year) and of International Women’s Day (March 8), Dara Castle, managing partner of RSM’s Washington Metro offices, recently shared a few insights about being a female leader in today’s workplace. In addition to her managing partner role, Dara is the current leader of RSM’s Women’s STAR (Stewardship. Teamwork. Advancement. Retention.) employee network group (ENG). Read our Q&A with Dara below:
Q: Tell us a little about Women’s History Month.
A: Women’s History month is an annual celebration of the contributions of women to events in history and society. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. Over the next few years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as Women’s History Week, and schools across the country began celebrating the week and even the month. In 1987, Congress designated the Month of March as Women’s History Month, and since then, U.S. presidents have issued annual proclamations designating March as Women’s History Month.
Q: How does RSM celebrate Women’s History Month?
A: Each year in March, we have the opportunity to recognize and support our women across the firm and in our lives through Women’s History Month. During the month of March, the STAR ENG shines a spotlight on exceptional women in our firm. We ask our STAR members to nominate women who excel at living our firm values of respect, integrity, teamwork, excellence and stewardship. Ultimately, six spectacular RSM women will be chosen to be recognized nationally on RSM’s internal website in articles throughout March.
Q: Tell us more about RSM’s STAR ENG. What’s the group’s goal?
A: RSM’s STAR employee network group (ENG) is one of 11 ENGs at the firm, each focused on promoting awareness of and sharing information about topics and issues important to each group’s members. Our STAR ENG connects all RSM employees interested in women’s work issues, and promotes the retention and advancement of RSM women into leadership roles.
Q: How does the STAR ENG achieve those goals?
A: We do a number of things to operationalize our focus on women. To begin, membership is open to anyone – male or female – interested in issues that are important to women. Members receive regular communications from STAR leaders and are invited to participate in various events across the firm. We also make leadership opportunities available to STAR members so they can practice these important skills in a friendly environment. For example, this past fall, one of our STAR members based out of the firm’s Chicago office, led a volunteer project with a large national nonprofit in the Chicagoland area. It was a great opportunity for her to shine as a leader, and for the firm to give back to the local community. In addition, we have a leadership and mentoring program available to our high-performing manager-level women to help them build their internal networks, create a community and address leadership issues from a female perspective. This culminates in a final presentation by the group to partners and firm leaders. We also provide other programming, including education on self advocacy, networking and access to women leaders for insights and inspiration.
Q: Why is it important to focus specifically on women?
A: As RSM and our clients operate in an increasingly global economy, it’s important that we create a workplace that is attractive to all people. And women are a big part of the diversity equation, with women’s participation in the U.S. workforce climbing since World War II, from 32.7 percent in 1948 to 56.8 percent today, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. With women accounting for such a large percentage of today’s workforce, it’s critically important that we engage them to broaden our collective perspective and enhance our critical thinking and decision making. At RSM, we understand the importance of diversity in our thinking as we strive to help our middle market clients succeed in an ever-changing world.
Q: What are some other things RSM does to support women in the workplace?
A: In addition to the STAR ENG, RSM supports all of its employees, including women, in numerous ways throughout the year. We offer a variety of innovative leadership development programs for people at various stages in their careers to build the requisite skills to become business leaders. We have a focus on flexibility for anyone who needs to manage the demands of their personal and professional lives. And we have robust parenting leave available to all new parents, as well as a variety of other family-friendly benefits to help people manage both work and home responsibilities. We also offer our STAR ENG “Women’s Words of Wisdom” video series provides tips and insights on a variety of topics important to our members.
Q: What would you like for women to know about working at RSM? What advice would you give them?
A: RSM is a great place to work, and our leaders truly care about helping people succeed. Our focus on inclusion enables people to bring their full selves to work and recognizes that the best results are achieved when diverse perspectives are considered.
At RSM, hard workers can chart their own paths to a certain extent, which creates tremendous opportunities for growth. It takes dedication, a commitment to excellence and a willingness to step outside of the box to take on “stretch” assignments from time to time, but you can achieve your career goals here.
This has been my experience in my 25+ years with the firm and I have witnessed it as the case for many others.