Women in Accounting

Illumeo Customer Success's Profile

Accounting used to be a male-dominated industry, but that’s changed in recent years! According to the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up 59.7% of all accountants and auditors and 52.6 percent of financial managers in 2020. And more women are joining the C-Suite, with the number of CEOs and CFOs who identify as women hitting an all-time high in 2021 according to a survey of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies by Crist|Kolder Associates. Though it’s important to note that that all-time high is still only 6.9% of 693 sitting CEOs and 15.1% of 678 sitting CFOs. So while progress has been made, women are still in the minority in senior leadership roles. 

It’s not for lack of certifications. Women account for almost half of all CPAs, yet very few women make it to upper levels of leadership both in corporations and in public accounting firms. Instead, many women who are CPAs start their own practice so they can be in control of their schedule. 

Yet it is critical for organizations to acknowledge this lack of women (and diversity in general) in the upper tiers of their organizations. Let’s focus on a few measures that could assist with this effort.

Consider Your Present Situation

You'll need to start by looking at the statistics within your organization. What are the current demographics in leadership all the way down to new hires. While you likely can’t or shouldn’t make major changes at the top immediately, consider asking questions like whether you're recruiting an equal number of men and women. Do they have the same prospects for advancement in their careers? 

Make a policy to include more women in leadership roles by knowing your numbers. Diversity in the workplace will not only provide different insights and attitudes, but it will also bring new ideas. This will allow your people to reach their greatest potential.

Keep Your Objectives and Outcomes in Mind

Before entering into any formal plans and rules, you must first identify your specific reasons and goals for achieving gender equality in your organization.

There might be multiple outcomes you are trying to achieve through increasing the number of women in leadership roles: to encourage gender equality, promote business development and innovation, or improve employee contentment. As a result, it will create a group of individuals that will propel your company's growth to new heights.

It's Crucial to Have a Flexible Schedule and Strike a Work-Life Balance, But It's Not Enough

Flexible work settings aren't enough to motivate your staff to achieve higher results and support. As an entrepreneur, your aim is to offer men and women equal career paths and opportunities while highlighting their unique abilities and knowledge.

You must create robust programs that enable everyone, regardless of sex or race, to develop in their professions at the same time. Not only will this likely help your organization succeed by bringing a variety of perspectives and ideas, but it is also essential to the future of your organization.

Firms are supporting formal efforts and verifying the significant benefits they provide in terms of helping them recruit, retain, and promote women. These are some of the findings of the AICPA Women's Initiatives Executive Committee CPA Firm Gender Survey for 2019.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • Smaller businesses continue to have larger percentages of female executives than the norm.

  • According to the AICPA Trends report, women made up 23% of partners in CPA firms. (Source: AICPA Trends Report 2019)

  • A total of 94 percent of the CPA companies questioned said they offered some sort of modified work schedule (MWA). MWAs were utilized by 50% of businesses' partners, and 62% of these partners used MWAs prior to becoming partners.

  • The findings suggest that MWAs can provide considerable personnel benefits to companies that adopt them, particularly in terms of retention.

  • In terms of attracting, maintaining, and progressing their personnel, formal advancement programs, such as mentorship and sponsorship, give major benefits to the organizations that adopt them.

  • Although all of the percentages have grown since 2017, less than half of the enterprises had explicit succession plans. Only 6% of respondents said their succession planning included an explicit gender component.

For women (and men!) who are looking to advance their accounting careers, keeping up with your certifications is essential. Illumeo CPE is the ideal solution for a complete Continuing Professional Education (CPE) platform to stay current with your professional skills and earn additional certifications related to the industry. Illumeo provides continuing professional education (CPE) for a variety of professional certifications, including CPAs (Certified Professional Accountants), CIAs (Certified Internal Auditors), and others. Illumeo is a fantastic resource for businesses and financial institutions with many certified professionals that need CPE credits.