And she backs it up with action
As BDO Canada's National Social Media Strategy Manager, Tera Beljo uses her voice to build a social strategy and support community management.
In a literal sense, she uses her voice to host BDO Debt Solutions' Financial Wellness podcast, creating a calm and reassuring environment in which to hold discussions like Overcoming Debt Stress and The Perils of Payday Loans.
And as a proud mixed-race woman and the first child from her family to attend college, Tera uses her voice to represent and inspire her community within BDO and beyond.
For that reason, she's one of six recipients of BDO Canada's inaugural WISE (Women in Search of Excellence) award.
Tera had a series of rude awakenings in the early days of her career when her parents would drop by her office to go for lunch and people saw her mother was Black. They started to treat Tera differently—and not in a good way.
Since then, Tera has made it her mission to uplift, mentor, and represent Black voices at BDO and in the community, with a particular passion for the music industry.
Outside of work hours, Tera is involved in AMPLIFY with Advance, Canada's Black Music Collective, where she produces a podcast that encourages diverse voices to be heard and their experiences shared.
Her deep connection to the community paid off when she was able to book a singer for a BDO Black History Month event in less than 48 hours.
As the only Black member of her team at BDO, Tera knows it's crucial to be heard and make her ideas known.
“I'm always going to be the loud voice in the room and that's okay,” she says.
She believes representation in the workplace is improving and points to BDO's creation of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity-focused pillars as a good example of the firm's commitment to inclusivity.
Meaningful action at BDO is particularly important since what begins within the firm has a way of spreading to the community at large.
“I want our clients and partners to be equally invested in breaking down biases,” Tera says. “BDO gives me the leeway to help make that happen.”
Tera is heartened to see the ideas behind inclusion, equity, and diversity taking root in a meaningful way. She points to the evolution of Black History Month.
“Black History Month used to be just a social post. Now, it's a whole program that adds value and teaches people about the history of Black people in Canada. For example, did you know that Redemption Song by Bob Marley was about Menelik Hall?”
Tera's referencing Bob Marley's homage to Black-rights activist Marcus Garvey. Marley lifted the song's line “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery/None but ourselves can free our minds” from a speech Garvey gave at Menelik Hall in Tera's hometown of Sydney, Nova Scotia in 1937.
An honour earned
Though she's been with BDO Canada for nearly eight years, Tera Beljo says she's humbled to receive a WISE award, especially since she's not in a client-facing role.
Everyone who has benefitted from her expertise in social media, marketing, and podcast production, along with her passion for music and support of all voices, knows there's no one more deserving.
For tips on dealing with financial challenges like bankruptcy, budgeting, and student loans, tune in to Tera's Financial Wellness podcast.