Empowering women in the accounting field: Opportunities abound
By Lisa A. Myers, CPA, CFE, MAFF, CGMA
A news item about Women’s History Month had me thinking about the bright future of women in accounting.
As we enter 2023, more women than ever are pursuing careers in public accounting and rising to leadership positions. As I think about the profession that I gravitated to early on and find fulfilling, I’m happy to share the following from AICPA's 2021 Trends report:
- Women now hold 39 percent of the partnership positions in accounting firms, up from 23 percent two years ago, an almost 70 percent increase.
- Women in 2020 also accounted for 54 percent of Master of Accountancy graduates and 67 percent of doctorates.
- 46 percent of CPAs in accounting firms are women.
I’m reminded of a quote by Madeleine Albright: “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” Truly, women are making their presence felt throughout the accounting profession.
As a recently promoted COO and the first female partner in my firm, I know first-hand the importance of providing career pathways for women. For women thinking about entering the field or returning, it is important to know that best in class firms like Boyer & Ritter are serious about providing career paths and offering opportunities for growth.
In the wake of COVID-19, forward-thinking accounting firms, like the rest of corporate America, learned the value of a distributed workforce and flexible schedules. Boyer & Ritter and other quality accounting firms realize that a “one size fits all” work schedule doesn’t work for everyone.
Today, the accounting profession is an attractive option for women who seek professional advancement even if they may have family commitments or other personal responsibilities.
Additionally, today’s accounting profession is vast, and women can choose from a variety of specializations, including auditing, tax, forensic accounting, management accounting, and financial analysis, to name a few. This diversity in specialization allows women to choose a career path that aligns with their interests and long-term goals.
As women consider the right accounting firm to join, here are some other crucial aspects that I’m proud to say my firm offers and that women should look for in a potential employer:
Mentorship and sponsorship programs that promote women's career advancement. A study conducted by the AICPA found that 78 percent of female CPAs who participated in a mentorship program felt it helped them advance. Similarly, a study by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) found that women who had a mentor were more likely to feel confident in their ability to achieve their career goals.
A more inclusive workplace culture is also essential for supporting women's success in accounting. Inclusive workplace cultures can help reduce unconscious bias, promote a sense of belonging, and foster an environment where women can succeed. For example, offering flexible work arrangements can help women balance work and family responsibilities, reducing the likelihood of women leaving the profession due to an overly rigid working environment.
Training and development opportunities are critical in supporting women's advancement in the accounting profession. A study by the AICPA found that female CPAs who received formal training were more likely to advance to leadership positions than those who did not. Additionally, providing training on leadership and business skills can help women build the skills they need to succeed in senior roles.
Finally, recognizing and rewarding women's contributions to accounting is crucial for promoting women's advancement. By acknowledging women's achievements and providing opportunities for advancement, firms can motivate and inspire women to strive for success.
The accounting field presents a myriad of opportunities for women seeking stable, rewarding, and high-paying careers with a strong focus on work-life balance.
As we commemorate Women's History Month, I believe it's important to continue encouraging more women to join the accounting profession and to celebrate the achievements and advancements of female leaders in the industry. With the ongoing shift toward gender equality, women can leverage the diverse opportunities available in the accounting field and make a lasting impact on the profession.
Lisa A. Myers, CPA, CFE, MAFF, CGMA, is principal and chief operating officer of Boyer & Ritter LLC in Camp Hill, Pa. She can be reached at email@example.com.