AICPA: Women Making Strides in Public Accounting
Feb. 22, 2006Women now account for 19 percent of all public accounting firm partners, up from 12 percent a decade ago, according to a new study by the American Institute of CPAs.
The study, "A Decade of Changes in the Accounting Profession: Workforce Trends and Human Capital Practices," was conducted under the aegis of the AICPA's Work/Life and Women's Initiatives Executive Committee and explored a wide range of topics, including career advancement, turnover, and mentoring. Over 2,600 CPAs took part in the research, including those working both in firms and in business and industry.
The survey found that women increasingly are attaining leadership positions in public accounting firms. In addition, many more women, as well as men, are taking advantage of alternative career paths offered by an increasing number of firms.
Many CPA firms are moving beyond the up-or-out philosophy of the past. They recognize that choosing an alternative career path is often a solution for some individuals to help them cope with children, aging parents or other issues. The study reported, however, that only 38 percent of the firms surveyed offered some kind of alternative career path that does not lead to partner, such as choosing to stay as a senior manager or moving into an area like recruiting that is less client service driven.
"Management of firms who demonstrate a passion for achieving work/life effectiveness can illuminate the path for others," said Leslie A. Murphy, AICPA chair. "Leadership needs to spend more time, effort and resources at all levels to redefine what it is that people really need to thrive today."
The report concluded that the accounting workforce is changing faster than human resources policies can adjust, noting significant gaps between what firms think motivates and retains people and what is effective in actual practice.
The report offered a number of recommendations for both firms and individual CPAs, among them:
Among the other findings of the study, included in the committee's report were:
The 80-page report is available as a PDF document from the AICPA Web Site: