Helping women define their future

May 7, 2013

by Marie Brilmyer
Women’s Initiatives Committee 

Women's InitiativesI 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:

  1. Support organizations in their own unique efforts.
  2. Support those in the workforce to achieve their own unique goals.
  3. 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.

To learn more, join us at one of the spring networking receptions, which will be held at the Dayton Accounting Show, and after several of the Professional Issues Updates.

You can also join us on LinkedIn or email any one of your friendly committee members or OSCPA staff liaisons. Give us your ideas, your input, your suggestions and join us on our journey!


The true value of mentoring

August 5, 2011

By Lindsey Hobbs, Communications Intern

iStock_000012702955XSmall“You’ve got a friend in me.” “Two heads are better than one.” “It takes two to tango.” Clearly, we as humans function better when we’re working with someone else.

I frankly wouldn’t be at OSCPA right now if it weren’t for a mentor who taught me how to write and opened doors for me with his networking connections.

And that’s where the true value in having a mentor lies.

Defining the mentor/mentee relationship

A mentor can provide a new way of looking at things and the relationship can be as formal or informal as you want. The experience is your own and how you and your mentor decide to shape it will impact the worth of the relationship.

Someone who has experience and is willing to share his or her experience can be invaluable to a person’s career. Whether you are simply going out for coffee to ask advice, or are using your mentor to help you network with future employers, the benefits are endless.

What separates a mentor from the typical contact you make by mingling and exchanging business cards is a long-term commitment and a genuine concern about your future. This mentor will probably be in a professional position that you are aspiring for one day, and you will respect this person enough that you enjoy being around him or her, but you will also be able to take some constructive criticism from this person when it is dished out.

Finding a mentor

Before you can be connected with a mentor, it’s important to decide what you’re looking to get out of the connection. Are you searching for someone who is on their way out the door, and is looking for a successor? Or are you new in your career and seeking guidance on professional development, or somewhere in between?

No matter your reasons, finding a mentor can be a piece of cake if you’re willing to get out there. First, check with your company and any professional organizations to which you belong. Contact your alma mater to see if it has a formal mentoring program in place. In these types of situations, you will probably take a test of some kind that will help the program match you up with the best person for the job. Bam. Mentor assigned.

If that’s not an option, look around! Chances are if you’re outgoing enough, it will be easy to notice someone in your workplace or school with a similar personality as yours. And that’s the key, too. You and your mentor need to be able to click, and you need to both have the same goals for your mentoring relationship in mind. Your mentor should be motivating, and encouraging, and will hopefully provide feedback that will help you define your skills and grow in your career.

What’s working for you?

Do you currently have a mentor or mentee that you consult with regularly? What is your role, and what value have you received from the relationship? Let us know in the comments!

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