Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Women In Accounting – Don’t Feel Guilty

IMG_4100CPA 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.

All of this and more is in an article on FAST Company by Lisa Evans. She also references a book by Pamela LenehanMy Mother, My Mentor: What Grown Children of Working Mothers Want You to Know. 

Many female CPAs working in public accounting have told me, “The partners just don’t understand because their wives don’t work.”

By the way, my mother was a working mother. So was I.

  • Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.
  • Ambrose Bierce

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Women In Accounting – Don’t Get Side-Tracked

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.
  • Al Anon

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Female Partners In The CPA Profession

4JS6X4XCW1There 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:

2 to 10 CPAs – – 43%

11 to 20 CPAs – – 39%

21 to 99 CPAs – – 27%

100+ CPAs – – 20%

Here is a link to some of the interesting results from the Study.

  • A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they don't get what they want.
  • Madonna

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Don’t Forget, You Are Selling To Women

“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.
  • Jeffrey Gitomer

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Be A Woman. Be Yourself.

There is a lot of advice out there to supposedly help women succeed in the game of business.

I often offer some myself – specifically to women in accounting, to help them survive in the interesting world of public accounting.

Recently, I have been re-reading and reviewing the book, “Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman.” I’ll be using this book for a Women’s Leadership Discussion webinar for the Michigan Association of CPAs on June 3.

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.IMG_1071

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.
  • Gail Evans

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Women In Accounting – Don’t Cry

Have you see Jersey Boys? Or, are you old enough to actually remember when the Four Seasons’ songs were at the top of the hit list?

One song title stayed with me all these years and helped me travel the female career path: Big Girls Don’t Cry. 

Later on, one of the lists from Gail Evans’ book, Play Like A Man, Win Like A Woman brought me another line to remember. On the list of Six Things Men Can Do At Work That Women Can’t. Number 1 is: They Can Cry. You Can’t.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, in her book Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success: “Crying, I found in my research, is just one of a menu of communication blunders that, in a mere instant, can suck the executive presence right out of you.”

Mika Brzezinski commenting on when she got fired from CBS:  “…..but there was no place for those tears in that moment. If anything, when you cry, you give away power.”

Here’s the best story…. from a post by  Lisa Quast on Forbes:  The next time you feel like crying at work, take a few slow, deep breaths, roll your shoulders up and down several times and try to relax. Picture in your mind the line from the movie “A League Of Their Own” when Tom Hanks’ character says to one of the female baseball players, “Are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There’s no crying! THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!” Then try to laugh at yourself to help diffuse the emotions of the situation.

What worked for me, for many years, is that when I felt myself begin to tear-up…. I would simply excuse myself and take a brisk walk down the hall, around the office. It’s better to be abrupt and mysterious than to cry. Besides, as females KNOW, crying usually doesn’t really mean that you are upset, angry, hurt, happy, or sentimental…. it’s a pure emotion we really can’t control.

Men, if you are confronted with this situation – it’s not personal and usually not significant. When counseling and mentoring females and tears happen, simply hand them a tissue (keep tissues handy in your office), and ignore the tears.

Ladies, one more thing from Gail Evans’ list of Six Things Men Can Do At Work that Women Can’t: #6 – They Can Be Ugly. You Can’t.

  • It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
  • Tom Hanks in A League Of Their Own

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Michigan Association of CPAs – Women’s Leadership Discussion

Photo on 5-2-15 at 9.00 AM #3I have encouraged many women in accounting to read the book Play Like A Man, Win Like A Woman by Gail Evans. Once I read it, I wished I had read it YEARS ago!

I am so pleased that the Michigan Association has asked me to facilitate a webinar where we will actively discuss the book and its implications.

Please join this the brand new VIRTUAL Women’s Leadership Discussion on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 from 11am – 1pm, developed by the MICPA‘s Women’s Initiatives Task Force. Women are encouraged to attend, bring colleagues to the table and participate in an open and honest conversation .

If you have read the book (or even if you haven’t), I hope you will join me and other women (and hopefully men), to talk about the topics and how we can put them to use in the workplace and use them to advance our careers.

  • Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Women (and Men) In Accounting – Expand Your Horizons

There is a lot of advice being handed out to females on how to advance to leadership roles in accounting.

One issue that often holds back both males and females in public accounting is the fact that they must continually devote time and energy to improve their technical skills. CPAs are required to have a tremendous amount of expertise in audit, tax and often in other highly specialized technical areas.

To advance as a leader, they need to maintain their technical skills but they also need to seek out broader exposure to management, marketing, technology and other areas to enhance their over-all business experience.

Many experienced CPAs gained valuable skills via volunteer work such as serving on non-profit boards, being committee chairs at other community organizations and so on. Many younger accountants, especially women, say they simply don’t have time to get involved outside the firm.

Most firms support these community and charitable activities. Consider joining Toastmasters to enhance your speaking and presentation skills. Join a YP (young professionals) group or begin your own women’s networking group.

Leaders need board exposure – don’t hide in your cubicle or office and expect to become a leader in your firm.

  • You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
  • Jim Rohn

Friday, February 13th, 2015

First Female CEO of a Big Four Accounting Firm

I like the headline. To be honest, I had to chuckle when I read the opening line of the Accounting Today article, because they called one of the Big Four an accounting firm, something that the big 4 seem to shy away from. And, realistically, they are much more than accounting firms.

CathySMSeriously, I love what Cathy Engelbert, new CEO at Deloitte said about fostering women leaders in the accounting profession. I also definitely support her comments about taking risks. I find that women in accounting whine about being passed over for leadership positions, yet they shy away from taking risks, branching out and learning more.

Comments from Engelbert about making the most of experiences she was given:

“For me, this was about the experiences that I was given. I took some risks in my career to get a wider variety of experiences to be considered for a role like this, including sponsors, and partners who sat in rooms when there were deployment decisions being made on difference experiences. They would say, ‘Let’s let Cathy do this.”

We often talk about partner complacency at many successful accounting firms. I also believe that there is female manager complacency. They get promoted to manager, their earnings continually climb – – so why change?

You, as my audience, know how much importance I place on mentoring. Be sure to assess it inside your firm – work on making mentorship and sponsorship a larger part of your culture. Here’s Engelbert’s comments:

“Sometimes if you have a mentor who’s not in the room at the time they’re making decisions about the experiences you might be eligible for, you don’t get the development you want. Mentorship is really important for your own personal development, making sure that you’re seeking the right opportunities and then having the right people in the room when those decisions are being made about your deployment or the opportunities you might have.”

I urge you to read the Accounting Today article and share it with others inside your CPA firm. Be sure you take note of the comments about audit.

 

  • Our young people are excited that we're using technology in different ways to deliver the audit.
  • Cathy Engelbert

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Women’s Development IS Business Development

Male Allies Gender BalanceThe title, above, should get your attention. Developing women inside your CPA firm is a major step in business development for the entire firm.

Last week at Winning Is Everything, I talked about the important role of male allies helping females succeed in public accounting.

During the presentation I mentioned the Accounting MOVE Project as a possible resource for CPA firm leaders. On the site you can access The Business Case for Advancing Women in Public Accounting.

Here’s some interesting stats…. follow the link to read the entire article.

  • Fewer women are entering public accounting. In 2002/03, women comprised 56% of new accounting grads (B.A. and M.S. combined). In 2012/13, the comprised 48%. (via AICPA 2013 Trends in Supply of Accounting Graduates)
  • Women comprise 61.3% of the 1.814 million American accountants and auditors. (via Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014)
  • Companies with one or more women on their boards deliver a compound return of 3.7% more than those with no women on their boards, since 2005. As well, these companies have a higher return on investment, higher valuations and higher payout ratios. (via Credit Suisse Gender 2000, September 2014)
  • Women managers more effectively engage employees of both genders. Women outscore men on 11 or 12 elements of developing employees, including giving consistent, specific feedback and encouragement, and investment in employees’ development. (via Gallup, October 2014)

Now, here’s a personal observation from my many years in the profession of public accounting… if you have a woman in your firm who DOES NOT engage people and is actually almost the opposite – she frustrates people. She will drive away more talented people than a man who acts the same way.

Make 2015 the year that you seriously address the issue of helping females remain in public accounting. They are key to growth and to succession. Begin with baby steps….. but at least get started.

  • Do one thing every day that scares you.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt