The CPA profession has struggled mightily to retain women all the way through partner. At a time when nearly 60% of the professional staff of firms is female, only 15% of all partners are women. A number of years ago, I read a quote from a Big 4 MP that aptly sums up this frustration. He said: “If I have 500 partners, and 400 are men, I figure I have 150 under-qualified male partners.”
A $10M client firm recently announced their new MP: a female long time partner in her early 50s. I haven’t seen statistics on this, but if 15% of all partners are female, I’m quite sure that no more than 1-2% of MPs are women. She talked to me about the period in her career when she raised her children and worked a flex-time schedule. Here is her advice:
- Have the right work ethic. Her examples were:
- Flex-time women who are raising children should be fastidious about checking in with partners and staff to stay in touch and stay on top of things.
- Be willing to modify your schedule as needed. There will always be times when client demands don’t fit with the flex-schedule you are working.
- Alternate days off with days on to maintain visibility and accessibility throughout the week, as opposed to going 4 or so straight days without seeing anyone.
- In general, look at flexibility as a two-way street. This pertains to full time as well as
flex-time personnel. Whatever the arrangement, it must be good for the firm and good for the flex-timer.
- Take ownership of what you do. Obviously, this is trye of full timers as well, but it
has a deeper maning for flex-timers, who may not appear to be taking ownership
because they work less.
- The day before your day off, remind key people you work with that you will be off the next day. This helps ensure that you, your colleagues and the firm don’t skip a beat
just because you are off a day.