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Friday, Jun 2, 2023

Successful Women Accountants

The accounting profession has a reputation as a stable way to make a good living. But when Martini Iosue & Akpovi Partner Mary Akpovi started out as a certified public accountant more than four decades ago, the culture of the industry was such that women who wanted to take advantage of the career path were forced to choose between firm and family. “When I started, there were very few women partners. You almost had to not be married or have children,” Akpovi recalled. “When I had my children I was only able to take weeks off (as opposed to months under current family leave provisions).” That’s no longer the case, she said. Social and technological progress have made it easier for women to achieve a healthy work-life balance while ascending the career ladder. In fact, the ability to work remotely has made the field a great choice for women who aspire to “have it all.” “Accounting is a really good career for women because you can function independently,” Akpovi said. Those in leadership roles – men included – have realized the benefits of enabling all employees to work toward both personal and professional goals. … It’s an increasing sensitivity on both on part of female and male partners. Men want to make it easier for women to take time off and progress, too.” This year’s Accounting Special Report focuses on the highest ranking women at large accounting firms in the Valley region. To select candidates, the editorial staff contacted the top companies on the Business Journal’s Accounting Firms list published in the Feb. 19 issue. Leadership challenge The notion of accounting as an ideal field for women is apparently reaching their ears, as they now make up nearly two-thirds of all accountants and auditors, according to 2016 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A report published last year by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants estimates that roughly 40 percent of staff CPA roles are held by women. “(The ratio of men to women) has really changed over the past 10 years. More women are seeing a greater potential for work-life balance,” Kathy Johnson, chair of the California Society of CPAs (CalCPA) and chief executive of CPA Forensics Plus Inc. in San Bernardino, told the Business Journal. “Before, this was traditionally a white-male dominated field.” The strides that women have made in the field are less obvious at the leadership level – for now. Only 23 percent of firm partners are women, according to the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. Around 95 percent of them are white. “Based on the latest statistics that I’ve seen, women and men of color haven’t seen as much change as we’d like,” Johnson said. CalCPA has outreach efforts in place to improve diversity in the industry, she added, including visits to high schools and colleges in areas that historically have not produced many accountants. “White women are making inroads into this field and there are opportunities for people of color,” Johnson said. “We’re making it our mission to get the word out that this is a viable career for people of all races and genders.” Large firms, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, are taking it upon themselves to create a more diverse workplaces. The London-based multinational accounting, auditing and assurance behemoth has instituted various programs in recent years to attract talent of all backgrounds as well as to boost the careers of those who are already there, noted Stefanie Kane, market managing partner at PwC’s Los Angeles office. Networking and mentorship initiatives for women have been launched to help more of them move into leadership roles. “Networking programs such an important program in career advancement,” she said. The figures for leadership will change as women continue to enter the field, Akpovi said. “I think it used to be more of a boys’ club, but men have become very open to women’s influence and that has changed for women for the better,” she said. “It’s a process.” READ ABOUT OUR FEATURED ACCOUNTANTS: Jenny Bolski Julie Choi Sheri Grossberg Robin Paule Elizabeth Woo Jenny Chen Mary Akpovi Margaret Shanley

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