2018 Best Public Accounting Firms for Women and Best Firms for Leadership Equity

Expectations have never been higher for women’s advancement in the workplace. The 2018 Accounting MOVE Project, showcases innovations that propel women to success and that inform firm leaders about related strategies for overall diversity initiatives. Approaches outlined in the report ensure that the profession’s much-needed emphasis on diversity and inclusion also furthers momentum for women.

The 2018 Accounting MOVE Project found that women comprise 25% of the management committees at participating firms—a huge advance from the 19% reported in the 2014 report. Still, progress is incremental overall, with women remaining at 24% of partners and principals at CPA firms.

Insights from the report include:

  • A philosophy of aligning wins for women with wins for leaders and for firms overall creates common ground for shared wins.
  • Firm aspirations are set by top leaders but middle managers actually convert to culture change
  • Men add invaluable insight as women’s initiatives sharpen their focus on barriers unique to women.
  • When men ask that programs designed for women be opened to them, too, firms have a chance to reinforce the unique value of women’s programs and to explore what the women’s programs are doing that overall training programs are not.
  • Women’s initiatives inform umbrella diversity and inclusion initiatives with proven logistical models and by illustrating the lasting importance of personal stories that inspire and inform rising women.

The Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance has released the Best CPA Firms for Women list and the Best Firms for Equity Leadership List, based on the 2018 Accounting MOVE Project report.

Visit the AFWA National Website http://www.afwa.org/move-project for all the MOVE Project reports.

Women’s History Month: Celebrating Women in Accounting

By AFWA National President, Lori Kelley, CPA

In honor of National Women’s History Month, I thought I would celebrate the contributions of a few important women to the accounting profession.

Christine Ross: First woman CPA

New York was the first state to enact licensure legislation in 1896 and gave its first CPA exam in December 1896.  Christine Ross sat for the exam in June 1898 and scored second or third in her group.  Six to 18 months elapsed while state regents delayed her certificate because of her gender.  The publication “Bookkeeper” stated in 1900, “The eleven men who passed the examination at the same time as Christine Ross, got their certificates promptly, but the young woman waited.”  She had completed the requirements and ultimately became the first woman CPA in the United States, receiving certificate number 143 on December 21, 1899 (more than 10 years after taking the exam!).  Ross had actually been practicing accounting since 1889, working for Manning’s Yacht Agency in New York.  Her clients included women’s organizations and wealthy women in fashion and business.

Of course, a woman did not have to be a CPA to work in accounting.  In 1870, the US Department of Labor, Women’s Division, reported that women working as bookkeepers, accountants and cashiers totaled 893 or 2.3% of the total.  By 1900, their number had risen to 74,895 or 29.1% of the total.  In contrast, by 1910 only 13 women were reported to be CPA’s in the US. The movement had begun!

Mary T. Washington: First Black Woman CPA

In 1943, Mary T. Washington became the first black woman to become a CPA and the 13th black CPA in the country.  Ms. Washington began her career as an assistant at Binga State Bank in Chicago – one of nation’s largest black-owned banks in the country.  She later earned a business degree from Northwestern University in 1941 and in 1968 she founded Washington, Pittman & McKeever, one of the largest black-owned accounting firms in the nation.

Ida S. Broo: Founder of Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance

This piece would not be complete without honoring AFWA’s founder – Ida S. Broo.  Born in 1858 and raised on a farm in Seymour, Indiana, Mrs. Broo went to Indianapolis to study piano.  She went on to take night courses in accounting.  In order to meet the two years of experience necessary to sit for the CPA exam, she worked for a CPA for NO PAY!  In 1925, she passed the CPA exam.  After holding various accounting positions, she ultimately opened her own office, handling tax and audits, and was the only woman in Indiana to practice under her own name at the time.  In 1938, Ida Broo founded the American Society of Women Accountants, with the goal to encourage more women to enter the accounting profession, to increase opportunities in the field and to inform the public of the place women hold in accounting.  “Our goal is to be accepted as persons, not women.  We have a long road to go, but we’re on the way.”  Mrs. Broo is quoted as saying.  Today, she would be pleased at our progress, but from what I have read, she would note that we still have a way to go!

And that is why the organization she founded is still so relevant today, 80 years later.  AFWA is here to support our members and to help you contribute to your profession, as did the women before us!  Join me in celebrating and honoring these women and all women who have forged the way, this month!

Check out the AFWA Blog at http://www.afwa.org for more messages from the AFWA National President and other association and industry news.

Matters of the Heart: Women’s Heart Health

By AFWA ’17-’18 National President, Lori Kelley, CPA

It is February – the month that is associated with matters of the heart.  And I am speaking literally, not figuratively!  This past Thanksgiving, my Dad headed home from spending the day at my house enjoying the holiday and three hours later, he had to be rushed to the hospital because he was having a heart attack.  This story ends well, my Dad survived and is on his way to recovery, thank goodness.

We all know someone who has suffered from heart disease and the statistics are sobering.  According to the CDC, About 630,000 Americans die each year from heart disease – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.  What’s even more astounding is that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing 289,758 women in 2013 (CDC), representing roughly one-quarter of all deaths involving women, and women are not paying attention!  Prior to my father having a heart attack, I had 2 other family members who have suffered heart attacks AND THEY WERE BOTH WOMEN!  My husband’s sisters both had heart attacks in their 50’s.   I have a dear friend from my childhood and she has heart disease that requires her to have a pacemaker – at age 50!  What the heck is going on?!?  What’s further distressing is that women’s symptoms of heart disease and a heart attack, may be completely different than those symptoms that a man experiences.  No wonder women have been a little lost when it comes to recognizing heart disease as something other than a “man killer”.

With that, let’s talk about important facts surrounding heart disease in women:

  • Heart Disease Affects Women of All Races – Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both Caucasian and African American women in the United States. Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander women – Cancer and Heart Disease cause about the same number of deaths.
  • Heart Disease can occur suddenly, with no prior symptoms.
  • Heart Disease Symptoms Vary in Women – Many women experience angina (dull, heavy to sharp chest pain and discomfort), pain in the neck, jaw or throat or pain in the upper abdomen or back. These symptoms can occur during rest, physical activity or at times of stress.  Arrhythmia is also a common symptom – the feeling that the chest is fluttering about.
  • Heart Disease can lead to Stroke – A stroke is caused when the blood flow to the brain is disrupted and this is often the result of problems caused by heart disease. Symptoms of a stroke include sudden weakness, paralysis or numbness of the face, arms or legs, confusion, trouble speaking, trouble seeing, shortness of breath, loss of balance or sudden or severe headache.
  • There are many risk factors – high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, smoking, drinking excessively, consuming drugs, poor diet, and lack of physical activity, as well as being overweight or obese.
  • It can be genetic – Heart disease, like many other health conditions, can be inherited. Make sure you speak to your parents, grandparents and siblings about the existence of heart disease in your family.

Knowledge is power and there are many organizations out there that spread the news and help women understand the dangers of heart disease and how to reduce the risk.  Two that I find very effective are:  The American Heart Association, which has its “Go Red for Women” campaign to dispel the myths and raise awareness of heart disease and stroke as the number one killer of women.  And WISEWOMAN (Well-Intergrated Screening and Evaluation for WOMen Across the Nation), administered through the CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention – it was created to help women understand and reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke by providing services to promote lasting heart-healthy lifestyles. Go check out their websites to stay up-to-date!

Ladies:  Take power over your heart health!  Happy Heart Month!

The Foundation of AFWA: Wrapping Up 2017

Message from Barbara Covington, Chair of the Foundation of AFWA

The Foundation would like to thank everyone for their generosity in helping us have a very successful FUNdraising event at the Women Who Count conference in Alexandria, VA.  With your help we were able to raise over $35,000!  Now we are excited to look towards spring when we will be able to award scholarships to accounting and finance students.  But, our fundraising work isn’t done.  Our goal for the year is $47,000!  We hope that you will continue to support The Foundation to enable us to continue our mission to promote and advance education, career development and leadership in finance and accounting.

Have you seen our weekly posts on FaceBook – #AFWAFoundationFriday.  We are promoting Foundation news, profiling our Donors and Board members, and promoting chapter events of community service and fundraising.  We are all excited about this opportunity to increase the Foundation’s awareness, but we need your help.  When your chapter hosts a special event, conducts community outreach, awards scholarships; let us know!  We want these posts to be not only about the national Foundation activities…we want to highlight you and your chapter! Like us and share our posts.  Let’s spread the good works of our chapters and Donors.

This has been quite the year for natural disasters, from Montana and California fires, to three devastating hurricanes.  In support of our impacted AFWA members, The Foundation Executive Committee has tasked the scholarship committee to develop the criteria and application for a National and Chapter Dues Reimbursement scholarship.  Because long after the storm is gone, our members’ lives may still be affected by the natural disaster, we have made this scholarship open for up to 2 years of support.  So California, Montana, Texas, Florida and any other member that has suffered from a natural disaster, please know we are here for you.  Please check out the application on the website.

As 2017 comes to a close, I want to thank each of you again for your continued support of The Foundation and wish you a Blessed Holiday Season.  Here’s to a great year in retrospect and many wishes for a successful, Happy New Year in 2018!

Learn more about the programs and to make a donation, visit http://www.afwa.org/foundation.

You Are Invited…

The Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance Mesa East Valley Chapter has several exciting events planned and we hope you can join us for education and fun!

Tuesday November 28th – Fraud/Forensic Accounting Night @ Dobson’s Restaurant, Mesa

This month includes 2 hours of CPE, dinner, networking and updates from the Women Who Count Conference. Our first session will start at 5:30 and features Theresa Valade, CPA – Partner from Moffitt and Company presenting The Fraud Epidemic and How to Stop It. After dinner, Katie Bair, CPA, CFE – Manager at Grant Thornton will present Exposing Fraudsters using Profiling and Forensic Data Analysis at 7:00. We will finish the night with our chapter business meeting and share updates from the Women Who Count Conference in Washington DC. November is also our United Food Bank Food Drive Community Service project. Attendees can help us fill the box to support our neighbors in need this holiday season. Registration is open now!

Tuesday December 12th – Excel Tips & Tricks / Holiday Party @ Dobson’s Restaurant, Mesa

This month we are excited to have Past President Andrea Owens share some Excel tips and tricks with us after dinner. Attendees can participate in a festive gift exchange during dinner and bring their gift donations for our Adopt a Family Holiday Community Service Project. We will have a special presentation to our chapter scholarship winner. Save the Date – registration will open after the November meeting.

Tuesday January 23rd – Annual Tax Night @ Karsten’s Golf Course, Tempe

We are inviting our AFWA Phoenix Chapter to join us for tax night and will be meeting in the middle at Karsten’s Golf Course in Tempe. Join us for 2 hours of CPE featuring updates direct from the IRS and AZDOR. These sessions will focus on individual tax returns, recent tax legislation and important updates. Save the Date – registration will open mid-December.

Thursday January 25th – Beers with Peers @ Macayo’s Depot Cantina, Tempe

Take a break from your hectic schedule and relax with AFWA and IMA members for our winter social at Macyo’s Depot Cantina from 5:00-7:00. No RSVP, no CPE, no stress – just fun.

Friday May 18th – Empowering Today’s Accountant Seminar @ Sheraton Mesa Hotel

Please note our annual seminar has moved to May. Shifting our traditional July/August seminar to the spring will give our AFWA National Board an opportunity to join us and hold their spring meeting and installation in sunny Arizona. Mark your calendar and plan to join us for 8 hours of CPE on Friday May 18th. You can also join us for the special installation dinner and recognize our National and Foundation board members.

Our chapter website http://www.mesaeastvalleyafwa.org will have all the details.

2017 AFWA Women Who Count Award Recipients

The Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA) announced the recipients of the 2017 Women Who Count Awards during the annual Women Who Count Awards lunch held October 30, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia.

This year’s recipients demonstrate a drive to take on challenges and strive for success. They are leaders in their companies and communities. They’ve earned the trust and respect of their clients and peers. And they show enthusiasm toward their career and the accounting and finance industry as a whole.

Emerging Leader: Jennifer Brodmann, MBA, MSFE
PhD Candidate/Dissertation Fellow, The University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA

Jennifer Broadmann is described by one of her students as a passionate scholar who manages to break up the complicated subject of finance into something everyone can understand. She has earned the admiration of her students, who seek her out for career advice, and the respect of her peers who seek her for teaching advice.

Makeen Huda, who nominated Jennifer for this award, states “The fact that so many of us flock to work with Jennifer reflects her integrity. We trust her to put her all into every endeavor. She has proven to be hard-working, reliable, and meticulous in her research.”

Industry Professional: Grace Staten, FSCP
Marketing Director, MassMutual, San Diego, CA

As Marketing Director for two agencies with MassMutual, Grace advises producers on how to position their practices in the marketplace. During her tenure with MassMutual, she used her leadership qualities to increase their field force, volunteerism and diversity.

Grace has dedicated much time throughout her career to community involvement. And her personal volunteer efforts have inspired many others within MassMutual to do the same. In fact, She ensures that the firm is out in full force volunteering and partnering with local nonprofits.

She dedicates her time serving as a mentor to young women professionally and personally.  Over the last three years, she has spoken with several women who are first entering the financial services industry through her women’s related industry associations.  She is also the coordinator of the internship program for the office heading up thirteen interns who are interested in eventually becoming financial advisors.

Public Practice Professional: Kelly Haden, CPA, CGMA
Manager, Ericksen Krentel, New Orleans, LA

Kelly is very driven and rarely says no to a challenge. She has her eye on becoming the first female partner at Ericksen Krentel. Kelly has developed a coaching relationship with each of her direct reports and serves as a mentor in the firm’s mentoring program to help develop and retain staff. Kelly was instrumental in helping create the framework for the performance management and learning culture committees to support the firm’s Performance and Career Excellence (PACE) program, which enhances staff development and retention.

According to Kevin Neyrey, Managing Partner at Ericksen Krentel, “It is apparent in everything she does at the firm that Kelly is driven to provide clients with great service, assist with firm growth strategies, and remain focused on her own personal growth to advance within the firm.”

Woman of the Year: Dr. Marilyn Willis, CPA, CGMA
Professor Emeritus, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN

This award is presented to a woman who has demonstrated extraordinary achievement in her efforts to support other women in career advancement. Dr. Marilyn Willis is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. She earned her doctorate in Business Education: Accounting at the University of Kentucky in 1976. She was one of the only women in her class, and was often challenged by the male professors about whether she deserved to be there even though she turned out to be one of the top students in the class.

She has extensive experience working at CPA Firms, as a consultant for large organizations, and countless committees and boards of directors, however her most important work is demonstrated through 45 years in the classroom teaching generations of accounting students. In her classroom, she demanded excellence and accepted nothing less than the best from her students. She expected her students to act professionally, be on time, and come to class prepared. It is said that Her reputation for being an outstanding teacher draws students like flies to honey. Dr. Willis has empowered many women over her years of teaching. Her former students have gone on to become CEOs of companies, controllers of corporations, Vice-Presidents of Finance, tax attorneys, partners in accounting firms, entrepreneurs, and professors – like her! What is most wonderful about Dr. Willis, however, is that her students will seldom have a more powerful advocate than her.

In addition to the prestigious Women Who Count Awards, AFWA also presented two annual member awards during the luncheon.

AFWA Chattanooga member, Debi Gilley, was honored as National Member of the year. Debi continually exceeds expectations in her volunteer roles for the Chapter. According the Chapter President, Christie Jordan “Debi has helped so many of our chapter members and leaders reach their personal & professional potential through her support, advice and friendship.  She is always willing to give her time and expertise when people need her, and is one of our chapter’s greatest assets.”

And finally, AFWA’s top honor the President’s Award, was presented to AFWA Billings member, Cathy Allen. The Award was presented by Immediate Past National President, Linda Harris, CPA. “Cathy is the embodiment of what the President’s Award stands for; her dedication, vision and impact on AFWA, both National and at the Chapter level is amazing.  It is my honor to be able to recognize her with this award,” said Harris.

Congratulations to all of this year’s Women Who Count Award recipients. For more information on the annual awards visit the Women Who Count Awards page.

Women Who Count Conference

Who is going to join me for an opportunity to connect, advance and lead  (and a little sightseeing) in Washington DC? I know you have choices when it comes to the conferences you choose to attend. So I want to share what makes the Women Who Count National Conference different and hope you join members of the AFWA Mesa East Valley Chapter at this year’s conference.

A Conference for Women: 75% of our Conference sessions will be lead by women. You’ll learn how to advance as a woman in the accounting and finance industries, and be inspired by the experiences of those women who you’ll meet. (P.S. Men are invited and welcome to attend!)

Technical and Professional Development Education in one event: Sessions cover a range of topics from tax updates and the future of the accounting industry, to leadership success stories, and self-improvement. You can choose the sessions most important to you! A variety of professional stages, career paths, and States represented.

This unique event brings a variety of professional women together. Women Who Count attendees come from across the country and they are young professionals, firm shareholders, tax professionals, CFOs, and so much more.

Get more info here: http://www.womenwhocount.com/