The accounting profession has historically been male-dominated, particularly at the partner level. Despite the fact that women have represented about 50% of new CPAs in the accounting profession for the past 20 years, women account for less than 20% of partners in CPA firms nationwide. The percentages in top leadership positions at these firms is much lower. One of the industry’s challenges is how to stay flexible and current with the evolving needs of the multi-generational workforce, including meeting the needs of our women professionals.
Committed to advancing the role of women in leadership roles in the accounting industry, Citrin Cooperman’s Women’s Initiative (CC WIN) was formed to further enhance the firm’s workplace to more effectively attract, develop, reward, engage, and include women. The primary goal of CC WIN is to create an environment for developing and retaining women professionals so that they can progress within the firm and enhance the firm’s ability to attract and serve women-owned and operated businesses. Citrin Cooperman is laser-focused on fostering the type of work environment where women thrive by providing benefits which include:
- flexible work schedules where professionals are also eligible for leadership positions
- technology that allows working remotely
- leadership training and mentoring -- and access to firm leaders
- equal pay for equal work
In addition, CC WIN has implemented a number of firm-wide programs, some of which are described below.
Specialized Training: CC WIN has designed specialized training for Citrin Cooperman women across all levels and lines of services. This training inspires the women of our firm to set ambitious career goals to help them achieve higher impact – resulting in higher performance and greater satisfaction. Through these training courses, the group explores topics such as developing relationships, negotiation skills, and developing a personal brand. Another goal of our specialized training programs is to help our women find their own voices in order to challenge themselves to take on new roles and create their own advancements, take calculated risks, build a network and future book of business, seek out role models, and make their own career aspirations clear.
Networking Events: CC WIN hosts networking activities for women at Citrin Cooperman both internally and with companies also invested in the professional development of women. The group also encourages participation at women conferences and involvement on industry committees and events to support our women’s professional development.
Mentoring Parents Program: The Mentoring Parents Program provides new parents with guidance and insights relating to everyday challenges, as well as a resource when the need arises. The program connects new parents with more senior Citrin Cooperman parents who have experience achieving work/life integration.
Leaning-out Program: CC WIN recognizes that many professionals in the industry often need to take a temporary career break to care for family, loved ones, or for other personal reasons. CC WIN developed a program through which an employee can stay connected with the firm while taking a temporary career break. Employees in this program maintain their connection with the firm and its resources while taking time away, including participation in on-site and self-study training opportunities to continue professional education requirements; invitations to CC WIN events; ongoing mentor/mentee relationships; and more. The continued connection during the off-boarding period makes the onboarding process much more successful when an employee is ready to return to the workforce on a full or part-time basis.
Through CC WIN, Citrin Cooperman has seen improved retention and an increase of women reaching leadership positions within the firm, especially at the partner and principal level. Improved diversity at our firm will continue to help us improve our culture, attract better talent, foster more satisfied, valued employees who, in turn, deliver superior client service. CC WIN continually gauges satisfaction, seeks feedback, and develops new ideas for additional programs and program enhancements.
As a result of her efforts, CC WIN’s founding partner, Patricia Cummings, was named a ‘Who’s Who: Women in Professional Services’ by Long Island Business News, a ‘Notable Women in Accounting and Consulting’ by Crain’s NY Business for her efforts in advancing women in the accounting industry and received a 2019 Women of Wall Street (W.O.W.) award.
The continued advancement of women is not an option; it is an imperative. Our firm, Citrin Cooperman, will continue to build an environment that encourages the advancement of women at our firm and within our sphere of influence. The accounting profession, traditionally male dominated, must consciously work towards the enhancement of diversity and inclusion, particularly at the leadership level where women continue to be underrepresented.