The 2019 Rosenberg Survey found that the percentage of women partners continues to grow very slowly, especially at large firms. What have you experienced? What explains the challenges the profession faces in achieving greater gender parity? How about racial and ethnic diversity?
When we look at the slow growth of the percentage of women partners, it’s important to understand the reason behind it. According to the report Women in the Workplace—2019, which was based on four years of study done by McKinsey & Co. and Lean In, one of the biggest challenges that women face on the path to leadership is getting that first-level promotion to the management role. The report states that only 72 women are promoted or hired to first-level manager for every 100 men. Thus, the slow growth of women in leadership stems from the drop-off mid-pipeline. Although the study covered all of corporate America, I believe the accounting profession specifically needs work on fixing this “broken rung” to achieve gender parity. The current situation makes it difficult for other women to enter into leadership roles where they can sponsor and support each other.
To succeed in any profession, especially accounting, it’s important to have role models and mentors within your firm. I myself recently changed jobs because I was looking for a firm that advances women leaders and has a diverse culture. At Mazars we have a strategy called Women@Mazars, through which women and men at all levels of the organization have an opportunity to learn from company leaders.
Women in the accounting profession face many challenges, such as excessive hours, travel, and seasonal deadlines. I strongly believe that there is a need for proper support, work-life flexibility, mentorships, and senior leaders to model the right behavior.
As noted in the report, everyone should feel responsible for creating an empowering, diverse, and inclusive culture. I accept this responsibility myself, and it is one reason that I joined the NYSSCPA’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. I recently helped plan the committee’s inaugural conference; it was a great experience, and I was excited to bring back ideas to my new firm.
How would you counsel high school or college students about careers in accounting?
I think very few people know exactly what they want to do by the time they reach high school or college. It’s normal to be unsure of where you see your future self, especially in the information age. Technology and Al are rapidly disrupting many industries, and accounting is one of them, but the uniqueness of the accounting profession is that it will never be eliminated. As long as businesses exist and people need help with taxes, there will be a need for accountants. A career in accounting will help people to get into any industry on the market by the time they graduate. By choosing a career in accounting, students learn the language of business, which is important for personal and professional success.
Do you find your work satisfying? Valuable? Meaningful?
As I mentioned in above, I joined my firm recently. On day one, I received a small “culture card” with the firm’s core principles. It says, among other things, to be a team player, demonstrate respect for others, be positive, be accountable, and be professional. The size of the card allows me to carry it with me anywhere I go. It’s very important for me to be in an environment with high ethics. Regardless of the work I’m doing, it’s important for me to feel respected, appreciated, and included in the firm’s culture. For me, it adds satisfaction in the workplace. There is a phrase: “We become what we believe.” I think we become what we do. Prior to choosing a career in public accounting, I was aware of long hours during busy season and other challenges that might come with it, but knowing that I would serve the public interest and follow core principles such as integrity, objectivity, ethics, and accountability helped me to see the value and meaning of my work.