by Marie Brilmyer
Women’s Initiatives Committee
I am fortunate to be a junior partner at a large, progressive public accounting firm, and as the firm has grown it has maintained a friendly and flexible atmosphere. We pride ourselves on the firm culture, and have made changes when necessary to fit the needs of our employees. As a result, we have very low turnover rates compared to the industry average. A great feat, especially for public accounting!
I believe that one of the secrets to our success as a firm has been not only responding to our employees’ needs, but anticipating them. Mentoring, wellness, leadership training – it’s all available and easily accessible. Most recently the discussion on employee needs has centered on women’s initiatives.
From mom-and-pop shops to Fortune 500 companies, work/life balance, or integration, has long been recognized for its importance. As our society has evolved to include people with unique situations, wants, and needs, employers have in turn responded by providing more flexibility.
Enter the AICPA and state CPA societies.
A professional society plays a much different role in helping its members achieve their goals. While it is up to each employer to meet the needs of employees, organizations like the OSCPA have an integral role in providing ancillary services. What does that mean? Societies, like ours, can serve to:
- Support organizations in their own unique efforts.
- Support those in the workforce to achieve their own unique goals.
- Provide resources for everyone in the profession.
Why women’s initiatives? The goal of achieving work/life balance is not, by any means, specific to women. But let’s face it, as the AICPA notes, “For the past 20 years, women have represented about 50% (1) of new CPAs in the accounting profession. Yet today, women account for less than 9% (2) of all CFOs in business and industry and 21% (1) of partners in CPA firms nationwide.”
The numbers just don’t add up.
While people can blame the statistics on different things, work/life balance or lack thereof being one of them, regardless of the cause, the goal is to support the advancement of women to higher positions within the industry and help them overcome the obstacles standing in their way. In the process, why not capitalize on some of those woman-to-woman relationships to build your network, find your next mentor, or gain a new friend? The possibilities are endless, and the OSCPA agrees.
We formed a task force to discuss if women’s initiatives are something the society wants. We polled our membership to determine what Ohio CPAs want out of a women’s initiatives program. We solidified our formal committee, held our first meetings and conference calls, and have just launched this initiative in full-force.