International Women’s Day is an opportunity for businesses to better support women in the workplace
Companies of all sizes can take five actionable steps to foster greater gender parity
NEW YORK (March 4, 2021) — In advance of International Women’s Day on March 8, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association) shares tips for businesses to better support and empower their female employees.
“The Global pandemic has highlighted the balancing act that women have performed for years managing their work and family lives,” said Crystal Cooke, director of diversity and inclusion for the Association, the global organization for the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). “It’s incumbent that organizations recognize the challenges women face in their career progression and put practices into place to support their success.”
Based on responses from recipients of the AICPA’s and CPA Practice Advisor’s 2020 Most Power Women in Accounting Awards, here are five things businesses can do to build a culture that provides greater gender equity in the workplace:
Be flexible: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to change the way we work and manage our lives. A study by McKinsey & Company found that 70% of women said childcare was their biggest concern compared to 40% of men. Employers should understand the added stress that comes from managing household responsibilities with the demands of work. This will likely require thinking outside the box for equitable and realistic solutions, such as flexible workhours or split days.
Make it OK to say “no”: Create an environment where those who are overwhelmed feel safe, and will not feel penalized or judged, for saying “no” to additional projects or responsibilities. Encourage women to ask for help when they need it and the option of taking wellness breaks to move, meditate, practice gratitude, and embrace this time with their families.
Offer support: Show concern for your employees and offer them the support they need. Ask the important questions and really listen to responses: How are you doing? and What can we do to assist you? Then find a way to provide the support needed, which again could be unconventional.
Emphasize well-being and self-care: For nearly a year, your employees have largely lived the same day over and over. Many are juggling all their responsibilities, which have now seeped into their workday and therefore resulted in no boundaries. It’s important that you help the women in your organization find ways to successfully manage their mental health, stress and energy levels and to take some joy out of each day.
Be more inclusive: Look around you in important leadership meetings – online or in person. Are women and people of color (POC) well represented? If not, reshape your invitation lists and include women and POC in meetings where strategy, vision, and business critical decisions are being made, even if they aren’t partner yet. If you are unsure of how inclusive your organization is, the AICPA’s Accounting Inclusion Maturity Model can help identify areas of improvement.
The Association (AICPA & CIMA) is committed to supporting women in the profession and to achieving gender equity for women in the finance and accounting profession. The AICPA’s 2019 Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits report found that women represent more than half (51%) of all entrants into the profession but comprise less than a quarter (23%) of partners. There are several initiatives to empower women in accounting and finance and support allyship in the workplace, including:
ENGAGE 2021, the accounting and finance industry's premier event of the year will feature a track on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, with sessions focused specifically on women’s issues and leadership. This year’s event will be June 7-10 in Las Vegas.
The AICPA & CIMA Women’s Global Leadership Summit, an annual conference which gives women in the profession the opportunity to develop their skills and connect with like-minded professionals. This year’s Summit will take place in Dallas on November 3-5, 2021.
The AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee, a dedicated group of volunteers whose mission is to promote and support the success of women to advance the profession together.
The Women in Leadership Forum, a network of CIMA members dedicated to supporting women in finance and accounting and helping them build their dream career.
Providing Continuing Professional Development resources and webcasts to help accounting and finance professionals close the gender gap within their organization. This includes practical toolkits such as the SheQ - Using the Power of Emotional Intelligence for Success, which has an accompanying archived webcast, videos such as Advancing Gender Equality in the Workplace: What Works and podcasts such as Diversity and Inclusion: Closing the Gap.
CPA Firms Sponsorship Success Toolkit, a guide to help firms implement sponsorship programs to help advance women in the profession.
About the American Institute of CPAs
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the world’s largest member association representing the CPA profession, with more than 431,000 members in the United States and worldwide, and a history of serving the public interest since 1887. AICPA members represent many areas of practice, including business and industry, public practice, government, education and consulting. The AICPA sets ethical standards for its members and U.S. auditing standards for private companies, nonprofit organizations, and federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination, offers specialized credentials, builds the pipeline of future talent and drives professional competency development to advance the vitality, relevance and quality of the profession.
About The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), founded in 1919, is the world’s leading and largest professional body of management accountants. As part of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association) its members and students operate in 179 countries, working at the heart of business. CIMA members and students work in industry, commerce, the public sector and not-for-profit organizations. CIMA works closely with employers and sponsors leading-edge research, constantly updating its qualification, professional experience requirements and continuing professional development to ensure it remains the employers’ choice when recruiting financially trained business leaders.
About the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association) is the most influential body of professional accountants, combining the strengths of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to power trust, opportunity and prosperity for people, businesses and economies worldwide. It represents 650,000 members and students across 179 countries and territories in public and management accounting, and advocates for the public interest and business sustainability on current and emerging issues. With broad reach, rigor and resources, the Association advances the reputation, employability and quality of CPAs, CGMAs and accounting and finance professionals globally.