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Partner, Audit & Advisory Services, Public Sector Group, Deloitte & Touche LLP

By: Himani Ediriweera

Few people receive the distinction of having a spirit award named after them.

In 2009, Deloitte established the “The Lynda Bowles Spirit Award,” an internal award designed after a tireless supporter in the advancement of professional women in Canada.

Through her mentorship to career women and her representation, senior partner Lynda Bowles fuelled a significant increase for women in her industry.

The award, in her namesake, is now given annually to a Deloitte woman who best demonstrates a leadership role in helping others recognize and achieve their leadership potential.

A role model and beacon for professional women, Bowles is committed to transforming a competitive business environment toward the development, promotion and retention of talented women in her profession.

Having worked at Deloitte since 1979, Bowles recognized the firm was gender and diversity challenged. With no female partners in 1984, leadership at Deloitte needed to evolve and represent the large numbers of growing women and visible minorities.

Along with a group of women, Bowles founded the Deloitte Women’s Business Development Group (WBDG) in Toronto. Despite being limited with a lack of social networks and almost no female role models at the time, the group had a profound impact on businesswomen.

An action-oriented group that organized networking events for women in professional services, the WBDG was a pioneer for Deloitte.

Since then the company has been recognized as one of the 50 Best Employers in Canada, a Best Employer for New Canadians for 2009 and a Progressive Employer by Canadian Mothers. It also supports a number of women-based initiatives to help develop the growth of women in business, like Canadian Women’s Initiative Network (CanWin), which is part of the Global Retention of Women (GROW). GROW’s programs include Women’s Mentoring Program, Career Moms, Women of Influence, Community Ties and Step Up.

And while Deloitte is still working toward gender parity, it reported in December 2010 that 22% of partners and associate partners were women and 33% of new partners admitted were of a visible minority.

Lynda Bowles was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ontario Division (FCA) in 1997, and in 1998 she was recognized with the YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Business. Bowles has also been awarded The International Alliance for Women’s “World of Difference Award” that recognizes up to 100 extraordinary women from around the world who have contributed to the economic empowerment of women.

She co-authored Deloitte publications “The Effective Not for Profit Board” and “Terms of Reference for a Not for Profit Audit Committee.” And, in addition to her work at Deloitte, Bowles has served on 13 boards and committees including Toronto Zoological Society, Weston Golf & Country Club, Bloorview Children’s Hospital, Branksome Hall and Women’s College Ambulatory Care Centre, and currently sits on the board of West Park Health Care Centre, as well as the finance and audit committee of the United Way of Toronto.

Bowles also sits on the faculty of Ontario Hospital Association’s Governance Centre of Excellence, where she teaches courses towards their Certificate in Leading Board Committees. The governance certificate courses are designed to meet the needs of directors as their lifecycle evolves on a hospital board.

Bowles provides new and experienced directors with the theoretical and practical tools needed to strengthen their leadership and governance skills. She has been involved with numerous deals within the last year, directly contributing to Deloitte’s growth. Lynda Bowles has also spirited as the lead on the Manager Relationship Program at Deloitte & Touche, mentoring 10 top female audit managers at the firm.