transgenderlogoAccording to Wanted Analytics, accounting and auditing jobs have grown by 19% for the first six months of this year, which is reassuring news for those seeking jobs in the financial sector. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) found that women make up almost half (44%) of the employees in CPA firms. Yet, only 19% of partners and principals in the CPA firms are women (in 1989 it was a meager 1%!).

Why are women so under-represented in the top positions in public accounting firms? One common explanation offered by pundits is that the auditing profession requires unusually long hours, especially during the audit season, and those unwilling to commit to the grueling hours are unable to climb the corporate ladder. Recently, accounting firms have expressed a willingness to change the 24-7 working culture, which is family unfriendly. According to an AICPA report, “The next generation of CPA firm leaders is demanding that firms create a family-friendly environment conducive to a healthy work-life balance.”

Kristen Rampe (Fortune, Sept 18) who owns a consulting firm which provides training and development to accounting firms, has some suggestions for women on how to make it to the top echelons in the accounting profession.
• Improve your communication skills
• Find a sponsor
• Start an affinity group at work
• Socialize with your co-workers

The accounting profession is ranked as one of the oldest professions. Evidence of accounting records and documents can be traced back to the Mesopotamian civilization, which existed almost 7,000 years ago. The historical longevity of the profession is indicative of its innate ability to innovate and remain relevant over time. Paradoxically, the laws of inertia also suggest that duration plays a role in making the profession more conforming, rigid, and resistant to rapid changes.

As the world becomes more data driven, and industrial revolution gets supplanted by information technology revolution, the accounting profession is bound to embrace greater diversity at the top because the millennials, and not by the old guards, control access to the drivers of information technology.

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