Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Keeping Women in Public Accounting

Keeping women in the profession for the long haul has been a challenge. A 2009 survey by the AICPA found 51% of accounting graduates are women.  We see that same breakdown in our hiring of interns and staff accountants.  But, the numbers dwindle to 23% at the partner level.  For a firm to be successful in the long run, it must retain talented women.

I work with many young women who struggle with the issues raised in the Pink article (see link below).  I also am seeing a rise in young men with similar concerns.  Figuring out how to master technical skills, serve clients, manage staff and build a book of business is difficult.  The old method of working a tremendous number of hours to make this happen doesn't work for most people now.  Nor does it appeal to them. 

Both women and men need to be able to customize their career to effectively manage life and work goals.  Firms need to adapt and be open to new ways of doing business. For this to happen, both team members and firm leaders must have hard conversations about what is working, what isn't and what could change.

There is hope.  Firms are finding new ways to help team members progress in the areas of practice development, leadership and client service.  As a career coach, I'm helping our team through the difficult conversations that need to happen to create a path that meets their needs.  Learning how to have a difficult discussion, clearly sharing what you need and being willing to work together is critical to keeping women in the profession.

Pink - Why Women Quit
AICPA Trends Report
Learn about Crucial Conversations and Vital Smarts

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