A few weeks ago I attended the AICPA Women’s Global Leadership Summit. This summit was attended by nearly 500 female professionals and about 10 male professionals. In case you are wondering, yes, I was asked multiple times why I was in attendance. You see, simply stated, public accounting and HORNE do not have enough females in leadership roles. At HORNE, we are very much focused on how to improve retention of our female professionals and help them advance to leadership roles at our firm.
I am part of that change. The question for me becomes, “How?”
I took away two key actions from the summit that I heard repeatedly from many of the speakers and presenters: “Be Intentional” and “Recognize Differences.” As I have reflected on those statements, here are some must do’s to improve female representation and influence in leadership roles:
- Be intentional in creating the space for women to discuss unique issues they are facing—and as men, be willing to listen and understand.
- Be intentional about serving as a mentor or sponsor for female professionals.
- Be intentional about seeking out opportunities to support female professionals in advancing their careers.
- Be intentional to look for ways to change the way we do business to promote flexibility.
- Be intentional to MODEL flexibility to increase flexibility in the workplace (for everyone—not only women).
- Be intentional to ask questions and to listen to the goals and dreams of our female colleagues.
- Be intentional about soliciting feedback from female professionals about their wants and needs from the organization.
- Be intentional as a leader in raising awareness when unintentional bias is creating an uneven playing field. We must be aware enough to point these out when they happen.
- Recognize that the old ways of work are no longer enough and we need more female leaders for our profession to remain relevant. I can actively lead in this endeavor.
- Recognize that women don’t want to lead as a female, rather, they want to lead based on their skills and credentials.
- Recognize that companies with female leadership are more profitable than those without—this is a researched fact.
- Recognize that women often have a greater reluctance to stretch their skillset in applying for a new position than men. This means I can help women see where they can grow, not just what they already know.
- Recognize that men will negotiate for themselves four times more frequently than women, so I can be their advocate and I can encourage them to own their voice.
- Recognize that men are comfortable “managing up” where women are more comfortable “managing down” and help identify opportunities that might help close this gap.
About the Author:
Partner Rusty Butcher is the father of two teenage daughters and is very interested in seeing them succeed personally and professionally. He is committed to being intentional in opening the conversation with them and females in the firm to discuss differences and understand his role in their success. He hopes you will do the same.