By ’17-’18 AFWA National President, Lori Kelley, CPA
Many of you know that I am an avid fan of sports, particularly baseball (at any level) and college football. In fact, as I write this article, I am looking forward to traveling to Atlanta this upcoming Labor Day weekend to see Florida State and Alabama duke it out in the Chick-fil-a Kickoff game in the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Go Noles! I bring this up, because sports are competitive. In nearly all sports, you must advance to score. And scoring leads to winning. It takes a competitive attitude, as well as some other characteristics, to advance a cause successfully.
“Advance” is defined as accelerating the growth or progress of, to bring or move forward or lift up. Since the establishment of AFWA in 1938, we have been dedicated to supporting women in the accounting and other related fields to advance in their chosen profession. Ida Broo began this organization to advance women in the career of accounting, because she, herself, faced discrimination. She had to work without pay to gain the experience requirement to sit for the CPA exam and she was refused membership to the Indiana Association of Certified Public Accountants – just to name a couple of the obstacles she faced. Our founder was a pioneer, blazing trails to break through the glass ceiling! She is quoted as saying, “Today accounting is very essential and will continue to be under our present tax system. Every little business has to keep books now, and it must be done by people who know how. Patient and unfailing adherence to detail are peculiarly feminine characteristics and are qualities a successful accountant must have. I hope every year to see more and more women write the coveted letters, C.P.A. after their names.”
Ida Broo would be pleased to know that of the 664,532 active CPA’s in the United States (as of June 2016, accountingweb.com), women represent about 50 percent of those. However, women still face concerns regarding work/life integration and gender pay equity, and we are woefully underrepresented in the partnership ranks of firms. According to the 2017 Accounting MOVE Project Report, “With few exceptions, all accounting firms, MOVE firms included, lose half of their women at the point of partnership. Firms with about 60% women at the senior manager level typically have 30% women at the level of partner and principal. Firms with 45% women at the senior manager level have about 21% women at the partner and principal level.”
There is good news, the numbers are rising – especially as long as organizations, such as ours, are out there supporting women in our vocation. AFWA will continue to promote the professional growth of women in accounting and finance by educating, mentoring, enlightening and advocating for women in the profession. In fact, a great opportunity to experience all of this, is coming up in October at the Westin Alexandria in Washington, DC. The 2017 Women Who Count National Conference will present opportunities for professional development and technical training, as well as networking with AFWA members and partners from across the country. In addition, we’ll host the 2017 Women Who Count Awards, which will recognize women achieving great success in our industry. Please plan to join me in DC and let’s experience AFWA together!