Our firm was recently recognized by Accounting Today as the #2 best small accounting firm to work for across the country, which was a huge honor for all of us. As we were going through the evaluation process for this recognition, we weren’t aware that Accounting Today was also looking into—and ranking—other factors that make a firm a great place to build a career. We were thrilled to learn that we also made the list of best accounting firms for women—another incredible honor.
Although the accounting field was traditionally dominated by men, today women are earning accounting degrees at an equal rate to men, if not slightly higher. However, as of 2017, the AICPA reported that women represented only 22% of partnership in CPA firms. Why is this happening? There are lots of theories, and those statistics are actually better for female representation compared with the number of women on corporate boards across industries. We still have a long way to go.
In my opinion, there are two big factors in accounting career advancement that apply to the majority of professional women:
- We’re nurturers by nature. We tend to sideline our careers when we need to care for our families—whether we have children, aging parents, spouses with demanding careers, or other loved ones who need us.
- We hold each other back. Whether we feel threatened by other successful women or more competitive around our female counterparts, I’ve seen countless instances of women pulling each other down where they should be helping each other up the ladder.
As a female partner at GunnChamberlain, I’ve been incredibly inspired by the amount of support I’ve received from my male colleagues. In addition to an accounting professional, I’m also a wife and mother. Earlier in my career, I never considered making partner because I put my family first. When I had the opportunity to join GunnChamberlain and began to see the possibilities to meet my personal and family needs while also succeeding in my career, I was able to nurture a spark of ambition to grow into a more senior leadership role.
If you’ve worked in accounting for any amount of time, you’re probably familiar with the pressure to log the most hours. Traditionally, people who want to make partner are the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night. However, technology changes have begun to erode that paradigm, and the forward-thinking firms are creating an infrastructure that gives people needed flexibility to get their work done and be present for their families. And it’s not just women who appreciate flexible work arrangements—men have also become more active in their families without making sacrifices to client service.
Working at this firm has changed my perspective on what I bring to the table. The partners met my ideas with openness to try new things, and it’s made a huge difference in our business. Appreciating the contributions made by each individual is a significant piece of our culture, and I believe it’s one of the many intangibles that make GunnChamberlain one of the best accounting firms for women to build a career.
I have a resource recommendation for other women with leadership aspirations in the accounting industry. Check out the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance. With over 70 local chapters across the country, a national conference, and many online resources, they’re a wonderful organization that’s supporting women in our field.