Working Mother released its list of the 100 best companies for 2019 yesterday, and the usual suspects from public accounting are once again on there (in alphabetical order): BDO USA Deloitte Ernst & Young Grant Thornton KPMG Moss Adams PwC RSM US Those are eight of the 12-largest accounting firms in the U.S. that made […]
Hey, ladies! If the grind of a career in public accounting is appealing to you and if you’re planning to have a family of five kids, two dogs, and a cat one day, then you should consider buying a Chevy Traverse—and peruse Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies list for 2018. From a public accounting standpoint, […]
Earlier this month, the AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee (WIEC) issued its second CPA Firm Gender Study and its findings are not encouraging. The survey found that partnership on average remains overwhelmingly male. The current survey shows little change from studies done in years past, which have typically found less than one-quarter of the partnership […]
A new study shows that women are drastically underrepresented as audit firm partners, averaging only around 16 percent for audit partners with U.S. audit clients. In some cities such as Washington, D.C. and San Jose, California, the percentage of female partners was around 10 percent. Yikes. The Big 4 firms performed a little better than […]
As you may have heard our esteemed and definitely not toxoplasmosis-infected president Donald J. Trump turned to two guys — Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and EY CEO Mark Weinberger — for a discussion on women’s workplace issues with his Strategic and Policy Forum last Friday. Perhaps all the women CEOs were busy that day getting […]
Here's a tweet from the AICPA Spring Council: #AICPAGC16 pic.twitter.com/jEORHCs8FZ — Pittelkow (@pittelkow) May 17, 2016 It's pretty remarkable that more than 55% of the recruits in 2000 were women. And I think it's equally remarkable that 15 years later, the number of women partner went down. And don't forget, even fewer of those women […]
Partners at accounting firms probably have a hunch about why women don't stick around, but that hunch is probably wrong: A recent global ICEDR study revealed that leaders believe that the majority of women around the age of 30 leave because they are struggling to balance work and life or planning to have children, whereas […]
In case you needed another crummy datapoint to help illustrate the gender disparity at the partner level in the accounting profession, this finding from the AICPA's Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee CPA Firm Gender Survey should do the trick: Many firms have non-equity partner tracks that don’t include ownership in the practice. The WIEC survey found […]
Last month, top 10 CPA firm CohnReznick hosted a golfing event for women executives. The idea was “to get [women] more accustomed to a common way to do business among generations of male executives.” Because so much business in professional services takes place on the golf course, our goal is to get more women exposed […]
Gordon Krater, managing partner of Plante Moran, said something pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay interesting about the state of the accounting profession in this Detroit Free Press interview: "We can't afford to lose as much talent as the profession has been losing," Krater, 56, said during an interview in the firm's downtown Detroit offices. "There are really […]
The World Economic Forum saw a “controversial” drop in female attendees last year, and hopes a participation rate of 17% for women this year might make up for that. Coincidentally, a CNBC report on this threw in a dig from EY on the overall attitude toward women and what they are doing about it:
As any old white guy heading up a diversity and inclusion panel will tell you, women at the upper ranks of the accounting profession are in short supply. You don't need an old white guy to tell you this, however, as it is clearly laid out in the AICPA Trends in Supply and Demand report. […]
UPDATE — A couple of reports out of the Milwaukee press have confirmed our tips from yesterday. We've also received the text of two emails, one from Ms. McMasters and one from CLA's other CEO, Gordy Viere that communicate the decision to the firm's employees. They appear on the following pages.
A couple of tips came in earlier today that CliftonLarsonAllen's co-CEO Krista McMasters is retiring. If she were to step down then it stands to reason that Gordy Viere, the CEO of CLA Holdings would be the head of the firm. We're still trying to confirm that this is in fact the case but if true, that would mean all of the CEOs (managing partners, or whatever else they might be called) of the 25 largest firms would be led by men.
Earlier this week, we made mention of the Big 4's precise efforts to meet expectations re: bringing women to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. As "Strategic Partners" of the WEF, the firms are asked to include one woman for every four men in their delegation. According to a recent-ish study, that ratio is […]
In case you weren't aware, the World Economic Forum is an annual ego-strokefest held in Davos, Switzerland. It brings together the leaders of business and a whole scrum of other people who are willing to plunk down a metric asston of money to hobnob with other people that are willing to plunk down a metric asston […]
Here's a sign that a board of directors resembling a Guys Night Out at the Tilted Kilt could be a problem: New research shows that firms with at least one woman director are significantly less likely to restate quarterly or annual earnings than are companies with an all-male slate of directors—40% less likely, researchers […]
After naming a new Boss of Moss one week ago today, we just learned that thirteen new mini-Mosses will be admitted to the partnership effective October 1. I'll dispense with the platitude quotes and get right to the names: Tracy Paglia, Stockton, CA Jessica Cluzeau, Los Angeles, CA Francis Tam, Los Angeles, CAMark Woodward, Los […]
Although it took a very awkward moment to get it: Even well-intentioned executives tend, often unconsciously, to dismiss women's contributions. At Ernst & Young, where 23% to 26% of leadership teams internationally are women, CEO James Turley told the WSJ conference that he was running a meeting years ago when "three or four women said […]
Want a laugh? Check out PwC's Gender Agenda blog. Granted, no one's bothered to update it since October so your laughs will be old and crusty but hey, they're accountants, not writers, who expects them to actually update the blog they took the time to create and populate? I don't know about you but I […]
Do you work? Are you a mom? Do you wanna be one? No? Then continue shotgunning 5-hour bombs.
For those of you thinking about juggling tikes and 10-keys, Working Mother hay it’s exactly 100) companies that they think you’re looking for. Hey! and there are even some accounting firms in there, so if you think your current employer will keep you crunching numbersup until your water breaks, you may consider some of these firms.
BDO – “To encourage its employees to use flexible schedules, this accounting and consulting firm has formalized the request process, made sure nearly everyone has laptops that enable remote work and instituted flex training for all.”
Deloitte – “As they pursue their career goals, moms telecommute, ramp up or reduce their workloads, take paid sabbaticals and even go on five-year breaks, all the while maintaining connections to office mentors and freelance work.”
Ernst & Young – “If you’re surrounded by talented people, it makes sense to seek their advice on work life matters, which is what the female employees of this professional services firm often do.”
Grant Thornton – “[Women] earned 32% of all promotions to partner in 2010 (their biggest victory ever) and now fill nearly triple the number of slots they did seven years ago. In the hopes that they will occupy 20% of the partnership by 2015.”
KPMG – “While women earned half of all promotions to manager, senior manager and executive last year, the growth of virtual meetings means they don’t have to stay in the office to be considered top performers.”
McGladrey – “Most every working mom has a vision for her own future—maybe she’d like to get a better degree, rocket up the career ladder, have more kids or just get a little free time. Goals like these are often achieved by women at the accounting, tax and business consulting firm.”
Moss Adams – “Moms-to-be can earn up to $250 through the Beginning Right Maternity Program, which evaluates their health needs, supplies a nurse to counsel them through high-risk pregnancies, and helps them get ready for delivery. When primary caregivers give birth, they may take ten fully paid weeks off; those who adopt earn four fully paid weeks of leave, plus $6,000 in aid.”
PwC – “Working a reduced schedule won’t hurt your career at this audit, tax and advisory services firm: Moms who put in just 20 hours per week still earn full benefits and remain under consideration for top jobs.”
All of the Big 4 snuck into the WM100 top ten which shocks absolutely no one except for maybe Donna Kassman. If BDO, GT, MA, and Mickey G’s get their act together maybe accounting firms will get their very own special Mom list. God, that sounds awful actually.
2011 Working Mother 100 Best Companies [Working Mother]
Our friends at Vault are curating the data for this year’s rankings to be released later this summer but they’ve got a little teaser for us that they published last week. They found that the number of women in accounting is roughly double of those in investment banking, the explanation being that “that women, more than men, seek careers with better work-life balance […] due to the fact that they’re more often than not the main caretakers of families,” as well as “offerings that the former industry provides its women in the workplace.”
According to accountants who took Vault’s 2011 Accounting Survey, their firms offer extremely generous maternity leave (and, in some cases, paternity leave); do not look down upon or punish women who take their full maternity leave; offer numerous flex-time and part-time working arrangements; and provide strong mentoring, retention, and promoting programs for women.
The finding that “[firms] do not look down upon or punish women who take their full maternity leave” and “strong mentoring, retention, and promoting programs for women” are contradictory to the recent lawsuit filed by Donna Kassman, a former KPMG Senior Manager, who has sued the firm for $350 million gender-discrimination lawsuit. Her allegations include KPMG’s “[failure] to properly investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination and harassment,” that her salary was cut when she went on maternity leave and that she was subjected to numerous instances of harassment and discrimination. Whether this one example illustrates a systemic problem is debatable as the Vault survey includes a large pool of respondents (Vault doesn’t have the tally yet) who seem to have responded positively to question of gender opportunity but the allegations are severe and are a blow to the KPMG’s (and the Big 4 at large) marketing machine of gender promotion and equality. KPMG has stated that Kassman’s lawsuit is without merit.
Despite the positive findings, the survey respondents didn’t have all good things to say. Turns out, “some” respondents believe that the leadership at accounting firms are the professional services firm equivalent of Augusta National Golf Club:
However, this doesn’t mean that accounting still doesn’t suffer from some of the same things that investment banking does. Some accountants who took our survey report that their firms are still beholden to the “old boys’ network” and, at the very top of the org chart, still consist mostly of white males.
That and “minorities and GLBT individuals are on par with those in the banking industry — that is, not so hot.”
Overall, this take on women’s fondness of the accounting industry is certainly more believable than the Times‘ piece on the culture of work-life balance since it collected responses directly from those who work in the biz rather than going to the firms for the story.
Ladies, what do you think of the results? Do you have all the opportunities of your male counterparts and the flexibility with no strings attached or do you still get the feeling that the deck is stacked in favor of the bros?
Deloitte’s Sharon Allen recently had a little chat with our friends at FINS as part of their coverage of Women in the Workplace series over the next two weeks. Ms. Allen will be coasting into retirement as her second term as the firm’s Chairman (her preferred term) comes to end.
The Allen interview covers all kinds of fun stuff so let’s get to it, starting with those pesky regulators:
Some of us are still getting comfortable to having the PCAOB sticking their beak into audits:
The public accounting arena has indeed changed a lot. It’s now a regulated profession with oversight that’s provided through the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. We are still, both the regulator and the profession, trying to work through that, with the common objective of improving audit quality. We’re learning how to work within a regulated environment that some years ago we just didn’t live with.
None of the firms chose to be the “Big 4” it just sorta worked out that way:
Just last week, we were talking at our global board meeting about how the profession got narrowed down to this number to begin with. The last reduction wasn’t the choice of the profession with [Arthur] Andersen out of business.
And speaking of four, she’s pretty comfortable with that number:
You have to have concentration of enough business to service the clients properly. If you spread that across eight firms, there just isn’t enough that supports that kind of that activity. In some of the major countries, the additional number of firms make sense, but when you look at it across the world, it doesn’t work. We’re not opposed to the competition; there are next-tier firms that are very good, and we encourage them to be in the mix in terms of proposal opportunities. It’s healthy. But the reality is the concentration will and probably should continue.
Term limits have somewhat led to SA’s retirement but there’s at least one person who’s especially happy about her quitting early:
I’m approaching the end of my second four-year term as chairman. We have a limit of two terms. While I’m not at mandatory retirement age yet, I concluded that it’s a really good time to make this move. I’ve had a fabulous 38-year career. But I’m also very comfortable with the transition leadership and the state of the firm. It’s a good time for me to leave at the top of my game. My husband is looking forward to spending more time with me.
FINS went ahead and asked Allen about the leadership election process, even though they already knew how the process went down.
We have a nomination process that we undertake. We interview through a nominating committee chosen by the board. They interview about 1,300 partners for their input on the type of attributes they’d like to see in the chairman and CEO positions. Then the committee interviews some individuals who match up with those qualities and ultimately proposed the nominated person.
One of the biggest challenges Allen has faced as Chairman was dealing with this clusterfuck of an economy. Luckily for the Green Dots out there, Deloitte management saw this coming and was able to save a bunch of you:
We were a little ahead of the game in anticipating the downturn that allowed us to prepare well for the difficult times to come. We had some reductions in our workforce, but they were not as substantial as they might have been had we not appropriately planned for the downturn.
And as a high-flying executive, there has to be coping mechanisms:
[Julie Steinberg of FINS]: How do you handle all the travel you do?
[Sharon Allen]: I drink a whole lot of water. I’m also fortunate to be able to adjust to time zone changes relatively easily. I work on domestic flights, and I do take my iPod and my computer.
JS: What are you listening to these days on your iPod?
SA: I’m a country music fan.
Chesney just came to mind for some reason (FYI Sharon: I can get you into the sold-out Red Rocks show, so reach out if you’re interested). But maybe she’s more of Toby Keith person, I can’t possibly know not having had the pleasure of seeing what ended up on the cutting-room floor. You’re invited to speculate as to artists (I’m pulling for Willie Nelson myself) and react to anything else you see above.
Deloitte’s Sharon Allen on Big Four Domination, Self-Promotion and the Corporate Lattice [FINS]
Earlier: Deloitte’s Sharon Allen Never Misses Date Night, Discovered Early on That She Wasn’t Meant to be a Car Hop
PwC UK Chairman Ian Powell would like to see more women around the office (obviously he hasn’t been to the San Francisco digs lately) but is taking this new stance slow. As in really slow.
As is, 14% of PwC’s partners are women. 14%! Trailblazers that they are, Powell has decided a target of something like 20% will be reasonable to start. Obviously something is driving the ladies away, however, as P-Dubs takes on over 400 new women a year of the 1000 new grads they hire. What’s wrong, girls, not the dream career you daydreamed it would be in college? “We take on over a thousand graduates a year and the number of women is in the high forties in terms of percentage,” Powell said.
Powell is not suggesting positive discrimination, in which women are treated like the fragile little things they are and given all sorts of breaks like months off to pop out kids, flexible work schedules to allow for time with their progeny and equal pay despite these many concessions.
While the UK considers quotas to force the profession to hire on (or is that keep) more women, Powell insists it is not just a numbers game. Funny, we thought 20% was a number? “There is a lot of debate about quotas but we don’t think that is the way forward. This is not just a numbers game.”
This begs the obvious question: if we’re pushing for “diversity” and making a huge deal out of this, aren’t we ignoring more important qualities such as skill, quality of work and talent by focusing on things like sex and race just to appear to be diverse? If a man, woman, and black transsexual all have the exact same educational background and skill, I’m totally OK with a company going for the most diverse option but we all know there is no such thing as equality. Interviewees come from all backgrounds and bring a variety of talents to the table – that is what firms need to be looking for, not high heels and African ancestors. Equality means being given equal opportunity to thrive and grow, not special favors just because one happens to lack a Y chromosome.
PricewaterhouseCoopers targets women [Telegraph]