“If you don’t like being a doormat, get off the floor.” – Al-Anon
There is so much going on right now centering on the topic of women. There are some good discussions and information and some bad.
I still firmly believe that there is a great opportunity for women in the accounting profession and I encourage young, college-bound females to consider accounting as a career.
I have been inside a significant number of accounting firms during my consulting career. Have I seen discrimination against women in the workplace (the accounting profession)? Yes, of course, many times. Have I seen women in the workplace behave badly? Yes, of course, many times. Have I seen women who, in my opinion, deserved to be fired but weren’t because the partners were afraid of consequences because they were female? Yes, I have, several times.
If you want to read some of the many blog posts I have done on the topic of women in accounting, I have sorted my blog site on the topic of Women. Click here to scroll through them and, hopefully, you will read many of them.
Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be dammed if you do, and dammed if you don't.
“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” – Maya Angelou
One of my favorite sessions from PSTech this year was “Mom, Manager, Mentor…Maniac?” by Lindsay Stevenson, CPA.
I so often hear sad… should I say “sob” stories from women in accounting. They, and often rightly so, are challenged by the difficulties facing them as CPAs trying to advance their careers and the important life role of mother and wife.
That’s why Lindsay’s presentation was so refreshing and inspiring. She didn’t mince words about the difficulties but she was so energetic and positive about the fact that women, working in the CPA profession, can succeed in both roles. She provided a lot of good information and strategies that are helpful to finding work/life integration specific to mothers.
Female CPAs, you can do it too – you can succeed in both roles. What you learn as a mom can also apply to your role as manager at your firm.
Join your local women’s initiative groups or the one sponsored by your state CPA society. Continually reach out to other working moms and seek positive, can-do mentors.
Don’t just let things happen to you – blaze your own trail.
“I didn’t get her by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.” – Estee Lauder
Lynne Doughtie is the Chairman and CEO of KPMG. After 30 years at KPMG she made history by becoming the first female CEO last year. It is also important to note that Cathy Engelbert became the first female CEO of Deliotte earlier in 2015.
Recently Doughtie (who is apparently a charming and down-to-earth person), shared some advice for women and employers about how the mindset has to change about females breaking through to reach senior positions in their careers.
Here’s her list:
Seek out and ask for mentors and sponsors
Understand the difference between the two
Work hard and set clear goals
Ask for more
Press the pause button when you need to
Be honest with yourself and stick to what your priorities in life
Don’t place pressure on yourself to do everything perfectly all the time
Do not lose your confidence, which has a knock-off effect in your career because of immediate circumstances
CPA firms lose so many bright, savvy females because of the long-talked about stigma that when you want to start a family, you cannot work in public accounting.
Too many young female professionals tend to heed the old-fashioned advice that they should work in public accounting for a few years, get their CPA designation and then get a job in a private company so they can then raise a family. Fewer actually become “stay at home” moms because the millennials need two incomes to live the life style they desire.
So, I urge all young women in accounting, stick it out. The accounting profession is becoming more and more flexible all the time. It is a profession that can provide the career development and prestige that you desire.
Don’t feel guilty if you are working and also raising children. Children of working moms actually reap many benefits because they have working mothers.
According to a survey of 1,000 grown children of working mothers, many substantial benefits were identified
Strong Work Ethic – The grown children reported that watching their mothers go to work every day instilled in them a strong work ethic.
Independence – Working mothers know they won’t be there for everything so they have deliberately taught their children to be more independent.
Resilience – The children of working mothers reported being able to solve their own problems and bounce back from tough times better than children of stay-at-home mothers.
Prepared For The Work World – Watching their mothers face the many challenges at work helped the children feel better prepared for the working world. They have a better sense of what to expect when they enter the work world.
Daughters Benefit Most – Harvard found that daughters of working mothers earned 23% more than daughters of stay-at-home mothers.
There is so much opportunity for young women entering the accounting profession. I truly believe it offers the flexibility and opportunity where females can continually develop their careers and still have a life.
Much of this is thanks to Millennials – males and females – who have figured out that work is not the be all and end all.
Here’s a song with right-on-target lyrics written by Pete Seeger’s sister, Peggy, also a singer/song writer.
Maybe many of you hard-working, professional women of today can relate. The story starts out with “when I was a little girl, I wished I was a boy.” Be sure to listen to the end to hear how the story ends.
That was me, an all-out tomboy who bullied the neighborhood boys. If they didn’t do what I said, I would make them eat dirt. Can you believe it? They still tease me about it. There were times at my firm when I wished I could have still done that!
If you don't like being a doormat, get off the floor.
There is some positive news on the topic of women partners. A year or so ago, the surveys told us that the percentage of female partners had declined.
New research from the AICPA has found that women more often attain CPA firm partnership status in smaller firms – those with 20 accounting professionals or fewer.
Women make up nearly half of all accounting graduates entering the profession, yet are regularly under-represented at the partnership level. The good news is that 24 percent of partners at firms are women, up from 19 percent in 2012.
Here’s the breakdown of female partnership levels from the AICPA CPA Firm Gender Survey:
“The shopping experience is very different for women than men; the male shopper’s experience is still the default position for many, even most, firms. And yet it is an unimpeachable fact that women are the premier purchasers–of damn near everything. (My message: Wake-up-ASAP-and-smell-the-enormous-opportunity.)” – Tom Peters
Tom Peter’s weekly quote (I get it every Monday), made me think of CPAs working in public accounting, for a couple of reasons.
One, most male CPAs target their sales to male business owners. I have observed that selling to a female business owner is not their main focus. I have also observed that sometimes the male even feels, and acts, awkward in these situations.
Males: Study, research and read about how to sell to females, practice better listening, learn body language, etc. It will also help you in managing your workforce. Also, when you are selling to a male, remember that there is a woman behind him probably telling him who to hire as their CPA.
Two, most accounting graduates are female. You are hiring a lot of them. Begin educating, teaching, and coaching them immediately on how to develop a relationship with a business owner or decision maker. Once the relationship is established, they can ask for their business.
Females: Don’t hide from business development assignments. Ask to accompany partners on visits to clients and future clients. Schedule lunches with attorneys who also serve your clients. Network in your business community as much as possible.
Selling professional services is all about building relationships – virtually and in person. Women have natural talent in this area – capitalize on it.
You don't earn loyalty in a day; you earn loyalty day by day.
The author of the book, Gail Evans, offers a full menu of “rules” for women to be aware of as they play the game of business. The final chapter titled: The Final Two Rules are so important AND simple: Be A Woman. Be Yourself.
Here’s an excerpt I want all women in accounting to keep in mind:
Intuition is one of the most powerful tools women have in the marketplace. To use it, all you have to do is listen–not just with your ears, but with your gut.
So employ your female instincts to your advantage–as long as you understand the effect these will have on the men in your office. It’s one thing to be privately nurturing with a male peer whose work is faltering, but don’t do it in a public forum or you’ll embarrass both of you.
Business relationships are first and foremost office alliances. This doesn’t mean that they’re not genuine, only that they exist to help all of you build a better, more profitable, more enjoyable work place.
I knew that if I didn't love my job, my performance would be second rate.