March 10, 2023

Celebrating Women In Accounting

Celebrating Women In Accounting

March is Women’s History Month. Women’s trajectory in the accounting profession has evolved quite a bit since I entered the field, just as things were changing societally; a time when higher-level women accountants were rare—and even rarer at the partner level. At Marcum, women are very well represented, both in our pipeline of talent and at the executive and senior levels.

That’s good news, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s no secret that women bore a heavy burden in the pandemic. Research shows that in many homes around the world, they shouldered the lion’s share of extra responsibilities, like setting up Covid tests, supervising online school, and trying to keep their kids engaged in the midst of social isolation—at a time that childcare options were virtually nonexistent. That left many exhausted. And things haven’t changed much since then.

In markets across the country, there are still ongoing challenges in finding quality childcare and other support services that enable women to balance work and family. The pandemic eliminated about 20% of childcare centers across the U.S., and 80,000 providers left the workforce, according to the bipartisan Council for a Strong America. Women professionals are still coping with a crushingly heavy load, one that is often unacknowledged.

Unfortunately, at many companies, efforts to cultivate women leaders have been faltering, or failing to keep pace with current realities, and, as a result, talented women are walking out the door in droves, as new research by the consultancy Gallagher shows. Many companies are, quite frankly, failing to give this the priority it deserves. The need to address gender inequities in the workforce is not just talk—it requires action, and it needs to be part of a company’s strategic plan, or it will fall by the wayside, plain and simple. That is why Marcum has made women’s leadership a priority—one that extends well beyond our intuitive early adoption of flexible work schedules, for example, long before it was common, and permeates every aspect of our culture, as regular readers of this column know.

There are many reasons for this. The most important one is it’s the right thing to do. But there is a compelling business case for it as well. Study after study shows that companies achieve better business results—from staff retention to corporate profitability—when they have more diverse teams. And that certainly includes women at every level of the organization. Leaders who fail to take this into account are leaving their businesses at risk of falling behind, especially at a time when talent is at an all-time premium, no matter what industry you’re in.

We’re a firm that wants to be the best in our profession, and our commitment to a diverse workforce is a big part of that. Having a healthy pipeline of talent, one that includes an equal representation of women, is critical to our growth.

As part of our DE&I programs, we’ve prioritized a key element: belonging. Policies like flexible work ring hollow if any employee feels she has to apologize for tapping into them, or if “opting in” comes with a career penalty. We’ve made ongoing, daily efforts to ensure that has never been the case at Marcum.

The proof is in the pudding. A number of the women who are currently partners and national practice leaders at our firm took and continue to take advantage of our flexible work programs when necessary in managing their family responsibilities. They have proved many times over that having the freedom to work when it works best enables them to perform to the highest standard without burning themselves out through unsustainable juggling. And they’ve lifted up others along the way through mentoring and role modeling—not only for other women but for all of our professionals.

There are many incredible women on our team who have fascinating stories and lead really interesting lives. This week I learned that one of our team members in Rhode Island—Emily Miner—has landed her own show on The Motorcycle Channel. She just recorded her first episode yesterday. It turns out that Emily rebuilds vintage Harley Davidsons as her hobby—how cool is that? For all of you motorcycle enthusiasts out there, I will share details about when Emily’s new show will air in this column when the details are known.

I’m sure there are many, many stories inside a company the size of ours that we don’t know about. I will share more of them as they come to me—after all, our people are what make Marcum Marcum.

In the meantime, we have a big task at hand: building on what we’ve learned to continue nurturing a workplace where the top women want to work. To keep myself honest, I ask myself one simple question every day: Would I be happy if one of my daughters took a job here at Marcum one day? The answer, unequivocally, is yes.