Expectations have never been higher for women’s advancement in the workplace. The 2018 Accounting MOVE Project, released today, showcases innovations that propel women to success and that inform firm leaders about related strategies for overall diversity initiatives. Approaches outlined in the report ensure that the profession’s much-needed emphasis on diversity and inclusion also furthers momentum for women.
Today, the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance releases the Best CPA Firms for Women list and the Best Firms for Equity Leadership List, based on the 2018 Accounting MOVE Project report.
“The national conversation about diversity is taking many of its cues from what is proven to work to advance women. The Accounting MOVE Project equips accounting firms with proven strategies that deliver what everybody wants: more opportunities for women and more growth for firms,” said Joanne Cleaver, President of Wilson-Taylor Associates, Inc., the content strategy firm that manages the MOVE Project.
“This year’s MOVE theme highlights how complex it can be for women to advance to the highest levels within an organization,” said Jennifer Wyne, executive director of human resources for Moss Adams, founding sponsor of the Accounting MOVE Project. “Many factors influence the trajectory of a woman’s career. To be successful and to see continued progress, we need to be intentional and systematic on our approach to developing and advancing women.”
“The challenge for firms lies outside our comfort zone of the spreadsheet. It’s really in how we define success—past success and future success,” said Risa Lavine, CohnReznick principal and chief of staff. “This year’s Accounting MOVE Project Report identifies how we can expand ‘success’ to truly include all, within our firms and within our communities.” CohnReznick is the national sponsor of the Accounting MOVE Project.
The 2018 Accounting MOVE Project found that women comprise 25% of the management committees at participating firms—a huge advance from the 19% reported in the 2014 report. Still, progress is incremental overall, with women remaining at 24% of partners and principals at CPA firms.
“As with anything in business, we must evaluate, adapt, and evolve to ensure continued success. This holds true for women’s initiatives. This year’s Accounting MOVE Project demonstrates how far women have come in the industry, but also expresses the need to keep pushing forward,” said Cindy Stanley, executive director for the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA). “And while the report takes a look specifically inside accounting firms, the practices discussed are relevant for any organization who values the advancement of women, including AFWA.”
Insights from the report include:
- A philosophy of aligning wins for women with wins for leaders and for firms overall creates common ground for shared wins.
- Firm aspirations are set by top leaders but middle managers actually convert to culture change
- Men add invaluable insight as women’s initiatives sharpen their focus on barriers unique to women.
- When men ask that programs designed for women be opened to them, too, firms have a chance to reinforce the unique value of women’s programs and to explore what the women’s programs are doing that overall training programs are not.
- Women’s initiatives inform umbrella diversity and inclusion initiatives with proven logistical models and by illustrating the lasting importance of personal stories that inspire and inform rising women.
2018 Best CPA Firms for Women
The Best CPA Firms for Women list, sponsored by AFWA, is based on each year’s MOVE results. The 12 firms named to the Best Accounting Firms for Women list demonstrate three characteristics:
- Consistent, measurable progress in advancing women to leadership.
- Proven and continually evolving programs that retain and advance women.
- Clear and compelling integration of the business case for advancing women with business results.
BPM (San Francisco)
The firm’s diverse women partners realize and capitalize on their abilities to bring in new clients, which has resulted in a burst of revenue from its recently promoted women.
Brown Smith Wallace (St. Louis)
The firm assigns performance managers to work with younger employees to craft personalized career advancement strategies that provide guidance during early career decisions and their ramifications.
Clark Nuber PS (Bellevue, Wash.)
With 47.5% women shareholders as proof of its success, the firm’s monthly feedback meetings emphasize accomplishments in real time, not just annually, so employees see immediate results of and from their actions.
CohnReznick LLP (New York)
The established success of the firm’s WomenCAN efforts are being leveraged to mentor leaders of its new diversity and inclusion councils.
Kerkering, Barberio & Co. (Sarasota, Fla.)
Flexibility is a core part of the firm’s culture with 23% of employees on a flexible work arrangement, ranging from reduced hours, flexible hours or remote work.
Lurie LLP (Minneapolis)
Even as the firm builds on programs that help millennials envision themselves as firm owners, Lurie is continually examining drivers of success so it can define advancement in terms broader than titles.
MCM CPAs and Advisors (Louisville)
The firm’s upcoming all-firm women’s conference adds to its commitment to women’s growth within the firm by creating opportunities to network, learn, and spend time with one another; MCM is also focused on allying with other women’s business groups as part of its new-market strategy as it expands regionally.
Moss Adams (Seattle)
Detecting and resolving small barriers to women’s advancement adds up to accelerated retention and promotions, and delivers on this firm’s “long game” vision for advancing women internally and in its community.
Novogradac & Company LLP (San Francisco)
Success here is driven by metrics…and metrics are driven by experiments with career paths, flexibility, and business development; Novogradac doesn’t shy away from setting precedents with alternative career paths.
Plante Moran (Southfield, Mich.)
Persistence is paying off as the firm’s long-established Women In Leadership (WIL) program is raising its profile with major events as well as integrating learnings and concepts into the firm’s core training programs.
Rehmann (Troy, Mich.)
Business development is about more than golf and other traditionally male-focused activities, and the women’s initiative catalyzes conversations that directly drive new approaches by women for business development.
The Bonadio Group (Pittsford, NY)
With 38% female partners and principals and 50% of the new 2018 partners female, the firm continues to focus on a strong pipeline by including senior level employees in its leadership development training program.
2018 Best CPA Firms for Equity Leadership
The Accounting MOVE Project also recognizes firms with at least 50 employees, where women comprise at least 31% of partners and principals.
The Best CPA Firms for Equity Leadership list is also based on MOVE survey results and recognizes firms with at least 33% women partners and principals, as 33% is widely recognized as the tipping point for members of any identity group to have individual impact. The Equity Leadership list recognizes firms that have achieve that milestone through any combination of culture, programs or initiatives.
Raffa, P.C. (Washington D.C.) 63.2% women partners and principals
With over 70% of its entire staff comprised of diverse employees, Raffa stokes the momentum with integrated flexibility and development programs, including an option for staff to mentor rising women leaders in other countries.
Kerkering, Barberio & Co. (Sarasota, Fla.) *Also a Best CPA Firm for Women, 60% women partners and principals
KWC CPAs (Alexandria, VA) 60% women partners and principals
To continue helping support women in their careers, the firm’s newly formed women’s initiative plans to include many networking opportunities with local women owned business to help younger women in the firm learn business development skills while also bringing new clients to the firm.
HBE LLP (Lincoln, Neb.) 50% women partners and principals
Every Fall, employees prepare for the coming year by committing to planned hours and an ideal schedule for them, which means every employee has the opportunity for flexibility; This has helped lead HBE to a 50% female partner rate and new fathers and mothers setting up second workstations at home in preparation for busy season.
Johanson & Yau (San Jose, Calif.) 50% women partners and principals
The firm designs innovative HR practices to attract and embrace all of the diversity that’s found in Silicon Valley to create a unique culture that has resulted in 50% female partners.
Clark Nuber PS (Bellevue, Wash.) *Also a Best CPA Firm for Women, 47.5% women shareholders
Hood & Strong LLP (San Francisco) 40% women partners and principals
Hood & Strong crafts remote work arrangements, especially in its growing tech practice, to attract and retain employees, both on the accounting side as well as hard-to-find tech talent.
MCM CPAs and Advisors (Louisville) *Also a Best CPA Firm for Women, 39.7% women partners and principals
Frazier & Deeter (Atlanta) 38% women partners
By having lower charge hour expectations for professionals, Frazier & Deeter encourages our people to balance all aspects of their lives while still growing the firm.
The Bonadio Group (Pittsford, NY) *Also a Best CPA Firm for Women, 37.6% women partners and principals
Brown Smith Wallace (St. Louis) *Also a Best CPA Firm for Women, 36.2% women partners and principals
BeachFleischman (Tucson) 33.3% women partners and principals
Rising women can pursue career-enhancing community leadership at a wide range of regional nonprofits thanks to the firm’s sponsorship of women’s business groups.
Lurie LLP (Minneapolis) *Also a Best CPA Firm for Women, 33.3% women partners and principals
OUM (San Francisco) 33% women partners only
Formalizing the firms flexible work policy, adopting unlimited PTO and starting a women’s initiative keep OUM with a strong pipeline of women at all levels.
Registration for the 2019 Accounting MOVE Project will open in August. Additional details are at www.wilson-taylorassoc.com. Firms of all sizes are invited and encouraged to participate.
ABOUT THE ACCOUNTING MOVE PROJECT
The Accounting MOVE Project is based on the MOVE methodology, developed by research partner Wilson-Taylor Associates, Inc., which investigates the factors proven to be essential to women’s career success:
M – Money: fair pay practices;
O – Opportunity: advancement and leadership development;
V – Vital supports: work-life programs that remove barriers;
E – Entrepreneurship: operating experience for managing or business ownership
Since 2010, the Accounting MOVE Project has measured and supported the advancement of women at accounting and consulting firms. MOVE is the only annual benchmarking project that both counts and advocates for women in the profession.
The MOVE Project advisory board includes leaders from association partner the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance; founding sponsor Moss Adams; and national sponsor CohnReznick.
MOVE is made possible by support from its sponsors and by administrative fees paid by participating firms. Firms receive benchmarking reports based on the MOVE Project.
2018 Accounting MOVE results are based on surveys and interviews with 45 participating firms that consist of 31,533 employees, conducted from November 2017 to March 2018.
For more information about the Accounting MOVE Project and see prior years’ results, please visit the Accounting MOVE Project web page.
ABOUT THE ACCOUNTING/MOVE PROJECT PARTNERS
Founding Sponsor Moss Adams is a fully integrated professional services firm dedicated to assisting clients with growing, managing, and protecting prosperity. With more than 2,900 professionals and staff across more than 25 locations in the West and beyond, we provide the world’s most innovative companies with specialized accounting, consulting, and wealth management services to help them embrace emerging opportunity. Our strength in the middle market enables us to advise clients at all intervals of development—from start-up, to rapid growth and expansion, to transition.
National Sponsor CohnReznick LLP is one of the top advisory, assurance, and tax firms in the United States, combining the deep resources of a national firm with the hands-on, agile approach that today’s dynamic business environment demands. With diverse industry expertise, the Firm provides companies with the insight and experience to help them break through and seize growth opportunities. The Firm, with origins dating back to 1919, is headquartered in New York, NY with 2,700 employees in offices nationwide. CohnReznick is a member of Nexia International, a global net- work of independent accountancy, tax, and business advisors. For more information, visit www.cohnreznick.com.
The Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA) promotes the professional growth of women in all facets of accounting and finance. Members increase their career potential by connecting with colleagues, receiving education and mentorship to advance their careers, and developing leadership skills. Members have the availability to tap into a network of successful, motivated, and influential professionals who understand the unique position of being a woman in the industry and who, together, contribute to the future development of their profession. Visit AFWA.org for more information.
Strategic communication firm Wilson-Taylor Associates, Inc., has been designing and managing national research projects that measure the progress of women in the workplace since 1998. Its methodology pivots on factors proven to remove barriers so that women can fully participate in driving business results. Led by veteran business journalist Joanne Cleaver, its current and past clients include Women in Cable Telecommunications, the Women’s Transportation Seminar, the Alliance for Workplace Excellence, SitterCity, Ebyline.com, and many others. Please see Wilson-Taylor’s portfolio of work at www.wilson-taylorassoc.com.
See the full report here