Accounting employers struggle to retain and advance women

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The Accounting/MOVE Project, co-sponsored by the American Society of Women Accountants (ASWA) and the American Woman’s Society of Certified Public Accountants (AWSCPA), is a national survey research effort to measure and advance women at public accounting firms and corporate accounting employers. Insight has been scarce as to why women go, where they go, and how accounting employers can better retain and advance these women at all stages of their careers.

The survey is open at both association Web sites, and  Firms and corporate accounting employers of all sizes are encouraged to participate. 

Supporting the launch of the annual project are certified public accounting firms BDO Seidman and Moss Adams.  

"Research plays a critical role in helping to identify, support and direct strategic imperatives such as the advancement of women in accounting,” said Sandi Guy, human resources partner at BDO Seidman. “Much like the Accounting/MOVE Project, the BDO Women’s Initiative, launched in 2006, was predicated on an assessment of our work environment comprised of workforce data analysis, a survey of pre-partners and interviews with professionals from across the firm.”  

Moss Adams began its own initiative - now called Forum W - in 2006 to attract, develop, retain, and advance women at the firm.

“The Accounting/MOVE research will enhance the efforts many companies have under way and provide the impetus others need,” said Tammy Young, managing director of human resources at Moss Adams. “We believe advancing women at Moss Adams means engaging in ongoing dialogue - both one on one and in group settings. But we also feel strongly that managing by facts and sharing best practices is critical to our success, and that’s why we support this important study.”

This information is vital to assist accounting professionals and their employers in retaining and advancing women in this industry,” said Lee Lowery, ASWA’s executive director. “Our goal is to work together to enable women in all accounting and related fields to achieve their full personal, professional and economic potential, and to contribute to the future development of their profession.”

“The American Woman’s Society of CPAs is excited about partnering with accounting industry professionals in the quest to provide accurate and valuable information that will assist the accounting profession in elevating, retaining, and recruiting women. The MOVE methodology will help us meet and exceed our goals,” said Executive Director Kimberly Fantaci.

The project is based on the MOVE methodology, developed by research partner Wilson-Taylor Associates, Inc. to capture the factors proven essential to women’s career success:

M – Money: fair pay practices

O – Opportunity: advancement and leadership development

V – Vital supports: work-life programs that remove barriers

E – Entrepreneurship: operating experience for managing or business ownership

Research results will support a list of Best Accounting Employers and Best Firms for Women; an executive report; a recruiting guide; and confidential scorecards that outline challenges and opportunities for each employer. Results will be released in spring 2010.

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