By Joanne Cleaver, Wilson-Taylor Associates, Accounting MOVE Project
This is the year that women of color take the lead in Congress and in the national conversation.
But, where are their voices in the accounting profession?
Few and far between, that’s where.
As reported in both the 2018 Accounting MOVE Project report and the 2018 MOVE Forward CPA Firm Diversity report, women comprise 23% of women employees at CPA firms; 17% of women senior managers; and only 9% of women partners and principals.
When women of color are asked to play major roles in both employee groups for racial diversity and groups for women, the expectations and pressure on them increase exponentially. These women are pulled in several directions as they are asked to serve as role models while still finding and using their own voices for their own careers.
White women can be allies in the workplace
- By joining women of color on issues that are important to them, such as advocating that employers analyze pay equity not only by gender, not only by race, but by gender AND race;
- By ‘handing the microphone’ to women of color to ensure that they literally have a chance to speak, on their own terms;
- By speaking up in meetings to ensure that ideas presented by women of color are attributed to them and are not appropriated by others;
- By taking a deep breath, listening, and showing that they respect the unique life experience, choices, decisions and complications that women of color navigate every day.
Perhaps ironically, workplaces are the common ground today in American life, where relationships bridge differences of race, gender, personal background and identity. At work, we all have a chance to call out the best in each other as we drive to achieve goals that we can only achieve together.
Accounting MOVE Project Update
In 2019, The MOVE Project team is delighted to be exploring underlying tensions that separate women from their aspirations for their careers in accounting. We are already discovering several underestimated factors that all employers can tap to better retain and develop young women and to help newly appointed women partners and principals gain traction as firm leaders. It’s not too late for your firm to participate in the MOVE Project, though don’t delay: by the time you read this, we will be winding up our research process for the MOVE special section that will be published in Public Accounting Report in May.
Both the Accounting MOVE Project and the MOVE Forward CPA Firm Diversity report are based on the annual MOVE Project survey, which also serves as the basis for the AFWA’s Best Firms for Women and Best Firms for Equity Leadership lists. Moss Adams is founding sponsor and CohnReznick, national sponsor, for the MOVE Project report, while Grant Thornton is corporate sponsor for MOVE Forward. Please see Wilson Taylor Associates for archives of all MOVE reports.
Finally, if you are headed to the AICPA’s annual conference in June, please join me and the MOVE sponsors for a session about diversity as a strategic advantage. I look forward to seeing you there!