Posts Tagged ‘women’

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

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Kindness, Toughness & Honesty For Women In Accounting

IMG_1112Yesterday, there was a post on the Ohio Society Women’s Initiative Committee LinkedIn site titled, The False Choice Between Kindness and Success.

The topic of women in business being “nice” and “kind” and how it might hold them back, is certainly a valid discussion topic.

I believe that kindness and toughness go hand in hand. If you are kind, build relationships and win people’s loyalty, they will come to understand that some toughness, and honesty, must go along with the kindness. It is the way I have always operated.

The honesty aspect also plays into this topic. This quote from the article says so much relating to the CPA profession:I think people just want straight talk. It saves time and in the end, it is honest. That is the bottom line. Everything else is meaningless if you don’t have honesty. Be honest and true to yourself. And from there, we can do anything.” 

Absolute honesty is often avoided inside CPA firms because it can be a tough discussion. Yet, CPA firm employees crave honesty. I observe so many male (and female) CPAs avoiding being honest because it might lead to confrontation or to uncomfortable conversations. People see right through it – not being completely honest and coming across as self-serving is a losing combination.

To me it is a false choice, as the title of the article reflects. You do not have to choose between kindness and success. In my situation as a CPA management consultant, I know I do not win “jobs” because I am a woman. I have even heard feedback that other, male consultants have actually told potential clients that “Rita is too nice.” Give me honesty and kindness any day and results will follow.


  • Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.
  • Samuel Johnson

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Women & Non-CPA Professionals – You Can Do It

This morning I am going to take a trip down memory lane in hopes that it might inspire, encourage or ignite many females and non-CPA professionals working in the profession of public accounting. It might also be a heads-up for CPA partners who depend greatly on non-CPAs and women in accounting to help create a profitable, growing, highly-recognized accounting firm.

I was doing some research and came across a self-evaluation I did early in my career for a mentor/coach I was working with. When I saw it I was surprised. I don’t recall making the comment but I can see how it applied to public accounting 30 years ago.

Below is what appeared on the self-eval form for me – by me. It was not seen by “management” in my firm, just by my outside-the-firm coach. Here’s how I felt early in my career.

Question:  1.  Describe the three most important things this person could improve upon in order to increase overall effectiveness.

My self-evaluation answer:  Get a sex change and become a CPA

As I reflect upon it now, the comment seems sad (but true). I am somewhat amazed that I felt this way. At that point in time I could have given up but I didn’t, even though I felt that if I was not a CPA and a man, I could not be effective and successful in the CPA profession.

Now, I know that my thoughts during those early years working in public accounting were wrong. As I look back, I must admit that my path wasn’t easy. It’s still not easy to build a career in public accounting whether you are a male, female, CPA or not.  The fact is, success in business, in general, is not easy. Life is not easy. You must have a passion for what you do and you have to work hard.

  • Don't limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you.
  • Mary Kay Ash

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Women In Accounting – Thriving In Challenging Times

Women BrochureI speak and write a lot about various topics and issues regarding women in the accounting profession. I also do the same about generations working in public accounting.

I want women to STAY in public accounting. They soon become skilled CPAs, they build relationships with people, inside the firm and with clients. They simply need flexibility, as do all people working in public accounting. It has become a generational issue.

Our society has changed, young men are much more involved in raising their children than the prior generations. Families with moms and dads building careers need flexibility.

If you are a member of the Michigan Association of CPAs, I hope you will attend the Women’s Leadership Luncheon in Grand Rapids on December 12th. I will be speaking on a Workplace Transformation…Women Thriving in Challenging Times. Here’s a link to the brochure and a link to more information on the MACPA website.

There is a huge dark cloud hanging over the CPA profession…. it’s called Succession. Women are key to successful succession.

  • It is better to be looked over than overlooked.
  • Mae West

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

More On Women “Leaning In” From Mary Bennett

IMG_3036Do you know Mary Bennett? If not, I hope this post helps you understand how Mary has been key in resolving some of the on-going challenges for women in the CPA profession.

She is the founder of MLBennett Consulting and has more than 25 years of experience as a client services consultant to the accounting profession. She is the long-time chair of the AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee.

Mary recently contributed an article to CPA Insider that is important for you to read and to pass along to others at your accounting firm. It is titled, Time To Level The Playing Field For Men And Women. 

Here is just one thought-provoking paragraph from the article. Please follow the link, above, to read the entire article.

I recently had a meeting with a senior partner and two leaders. One of the leaders was a young man, the other a young woman. The man demonstrated his initiative and willingness to take on a risky assignment by using sports analogies and repeatedly stating that he was on board. The woman demonstrated her commitment and willingness to jump in and take the risk by asking questions about the assignment, assessing the situations, and preparing to plan. After the meeting, the partner said to me, “Obviously he is ready for this and she is not because all she did is ask questions. It is unfortunate because she is really more qualified to lead this.” This commonplace “reading of behavior” and looking for what we have seen in male peers in past situations is an example of not recognizing “leaning in” when it may be there. 

(Picture: Mary Bennett, is that you with Rita?)

  • No one has ever asked an actor, 'You're playing a strong-minded man...' We assume that men are strong-minded, or have opinions. But a strong-minded woman is a different animal.
  • Meryl Streep

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Best Accounting Firm For Women

I have written about the Accounting MOVE Project several times on this blog. The 2013 Accounting MOVE report was released recently. You can access it here.

I recently read in the news that Plante Moran’s internal policies and practices have helped the firm be recognized as a Best Public Accounting Firm for Women in 2013 by the Accounting MOVE Project.

The Project examines the reasons behind why many women CPAs leave the accounting industry for careers in other fields and what firms care doing to change the prevailing trend – and the findings likely go beyond the accounting profession.

You can read all about why Plante Moran was selected here.

The top four barriers to advancement for women in accounting firms:

  • Work-Life issues
  • Lack of female role models
  • Subtle cultural factors discourage women
  • The need for an earlier emphasis on business development 

Please take the time this summer and fall to assess the need to retain women leaders inside your own firm and explore steps you take to keep qualified females in the accounting profession.

The future of CPA firms is in the hands of younger, talented CPAs and in the accounting profession the majority of those younger, talented CPAs are females.

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

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Helping Women CPAs Make History

Next week on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 I will be doing a webinar presentation for CPA Leadership Institute titled, “Helping Women CPAs Make History.”  I hope you will join me – – – both men & women working in public accounting. You can register here.

I really think this is a topic that men need to hear and then contemplate. It is not a one-sided issue and both men and women can enhance their working-relationships by better understanding each other!

I came up with this title because of a very famous quotation by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich:

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

Women are entering the accounting profession in greater numbers than men. Women are now half of all workers in the United States, something that has never happened before. Mom and Dad both being employed outside the home is a major shift in how American families function.  As the saying goes, A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything. Read more about it in the Shriver Report.

Little girls are taught to be polite, well-behaved, not to interrupt, speak softly….. maybe it is time for a little misbehaving. Men’s and women’s behaviors come from both nature and nurture. – Join me on May 15th to learn more about this fascinating topic.

Another quote I love:  Wild women never get the blues.  I saw the quote on a greeting card – man or woman, it has to make you smile.

  • I've never been to New Zealand before. But one of my role models, Xena, the warrior princess, comes from there.
  • Madeleine Albright

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Male & Female Accountants Need A Flexibility Initiative

I have been talking and writing about the need to keep women in public accounting for years (and years).

It is once again in the spotlight mostly because of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. Because of her high profile, success in the business world and I guess you could say her clout – people pay attention. They read her book. They like it or they hate it. They criticize or applaud via social media. Once the hoopla dies down, life will go on, especially inside CPA firms.

What matters to me most about women’s initiatives in public accounting is the fact that while there is a need, there is also a need for retaining young men in public accounting.

If you are not familiar with The Shriver Report, take a few minutes and read the executive summary. The report describes how a woman’s nation changes everything about how we live and work today.  For the first time in our nation’s history, women are half of all U.S. workers and mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of American families. This is a dramatic shift from just a generation ago. The Shriver Report is not just a woman’s story.

In today’s families, both parents work. Both need flexibility because they are raising their families and taking care of households as a team.

I think it can be described best by what a female CPA said to me during one of my presentations, “When we have a sick child, we flip a coin to see who stays home.”

In the “old days” men did the yard work, took care of the car, coached the little league team and did handyman duties around the home. Women shopped, cooked, cleaned, did laundry and, if they worked outside the home, they stayed home when a child was sick.

Dads are so much more involved on the home front these days. So, don’t forget that male CPAs also need flexibility while they are building their careers in public accounting. I would like you to establish a flexibility initiative, a family initiative or simply a “life” initiative to support your team members, both married and single, who have other priorities outside of the office.

I love this Tide commercial. While you might think this is a stay-at-home Dad, I like to think that he does the laundry and is also a CPA with a full-time job outside the home.

  • It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.
  • Pope John XXIII

Friday, March 8th, 2013

International Women’s Day – Some Of My Thoughts

It’s International Women’s Day. IWD has been observed in the United States since the early 1900s. I am so proud of the many CPA firms who embrace women’s initiatives.

More than that, I am proud of women in CPA firms who do not feel like victims and help themselves become outstanding CPAs and influential, powerful women in the business world.

My advice to women working in CPA firms….. If you feel like you are not gaining ground, you are not gaining respect, you are not getting equal pay, you are not being considered for the appropriate promotions… – Do not wait for many years to pass by before you move on to more fertile ground. You are not helpless. You are responsible for your own circumstances.

Here’s some past blog posts that I have made under the category of “women.”

Finally – – A Mystery Heroine Who Is An Accountant.

Women, Are You Whining?

Style Matters.

In The CPA Profession – It Is Not Just Women Who Need Flexibility.

If you want to read more – just click on the category titled Women on the right side of this page.

I was raised with the fact that as a girl.. a woman…. I must behave myself. I am getting over it.


  • Well behaved women seldom make history.
  • Laura Thatcher Ulrich

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Great Day With The OSCPA

IMG_1023Yesterday, it was my pleasure and honor to part of a new Committee for The Ohio Society of CPAs – The Women’s Initiatives Committee.

If you are a member of OSCPA, I hope you read the article in Ohio CPA Voice  about a survey conducted last fall to determine interest in a women’s initiative for the state society. You can read it here, in the December issue.

The survey response was amazing, a 19.6% response rate (which is huge) and 350 members said they were willing to volunteer to help in some aspect of the OSCPA Women’s Initiatives program or events.

The Board approved the establishment of the Committee, we met yesterday and we’re off and running.

A special treat for me, and the other members of the committee, was the opportunity to meet Scott Wiley, our new President and CEO of the Ohio Society of CPAs.

Probably like many of you (members of the Ohio Society), I was curious about this new guy in town and how he will fare filling the big shoes of Clarke Price (retiring CEO who had been in place for 22 years).

Wiley joined us first thing to meet us, welcome us and stress his support for this new initiative. He also shared lunch with us and to get to know us better, ask for our insights and share some of the steps in his new adventure. Bottom line… I was impressed by his charm, professionalism and willingness to engage with us.

AND yes, he agreed to a picture – – Scott Wiley – new OSCPA CEO – is that you with Rita?


  • There is a special place in Hell for women who do not help other women.
  • Madeleine K. Albright