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Candid reflections: An overview of our women's event

September 24, 2019  |  Linda Wedul

Candid reflections: An overview of our women's event

My last post encouraged readers to put our women’s event, Candid Conversations With Women, on your calendar. I attended and I had the great fortune of meeting some new members and reconnecting with old friends. 

The range of experience in the room was incredibly deep: from public accounting firm partners nearing retirement to a new graduate just beginning to sit for the exam, and everything in between. Sole practitioners, the Big Four firm partners, business and industry executives, and Fortune 1,000 companies were all represented. And it wasn't just women attending; kudos to Boulay’s male partners for attending the event and demonstrating a culture of support for women. 
Two things brought this diverse group together: being accounting professionals and caring about women succeeding. Each of the event’s three speakers had interesting insights about women’s advancement in public accounting, and even better personal stories to share.
Tracey Golden, the AICPA’s vice chair, shared statistics on women in the accounting profession that revealed how far we’ve come, and yet how we have a ways to go. The percentage of women entering the profession has been roughly 50% for 28 years, while the percentage of female partners remains stuck in the low twenties. The standout is in firms with two to 10 CPAs, where 42% of the partners are women. But, as firm size grows, that percentage shrinks; at firms with more than 100 CPAs, that percentage drops to 21%. I'd love to find a stat on how many women have started their own public accounting firm or business. 
Mary Jepperson, an MNCPA member and St. John's University professor, talked about quality time and quantity time. Building on the Marie Kondo philosophy, focus on what brings you joy when choosing how you spend your time. We are gifted 24 hours every day -- never more and never less -- so chose what you do with care. Mary provided an example: washing the sheets twice a week as her mother had always done. When she stepped back to think about it, she realized the sheets couldn’t be that dirty -- her kids were sleeping in footie pajamas! In my case, it was ironing the sheets after washing them. That is what my mom always did, but it wasn’t hard to let that go in exchange for more time with kids. You can't do it all, so be intentional, make choices and let it go.
Finally, Melissa Harrison, owner of AlleeCreative, mother of four, board member and volunteer shared that it is OK to say no. Before committing to something, ask yourself: 

  • How much time will this take?
  • How much time will be left for "X" (family, me, spouse)?
  • Does this need to happen now?
  • Will this truly make me happy/be impactful?
All three speakers also encouraged women to support each other. In some company cultures, women believe that only one female can be promoted or be selected for a high-profile project, like it’s a secret unspoken quota. So, women position themselves as “the one” by putting down or minimizing the success of their female colleagues. We can all succeed! Be supportive, be a mentor and find a mentor. 
Thank you to the women and men who took the time to attend Candid Conversations and are building supportive, diverse and inclusive work cultures. If you couldn't attend or want to extend the conversation, join the MNCPA Women's Special Interest Section to receive notices of future meetings.

Topics: Personal Development , Work-Life Balance, Diversity & Inclusion

Linda Wedul

Linda Wedul is president and CEO of the MNCPA. She’s usually spotted at MNCPA events, introducing herself to members with a warm smile and memorable laugh. Mixed among the Footnotes, accounting journals, leadership books and three monitors in her office, you’d be surprised to see a dog kennel. Her unpaid job is volunteering as a foster family for service dogs in training through Can-Do-Canines. She and her husband have two adult children and live in Farmington. Linda can be reached at 952-885-5516 or lwedul@mncpa.org.

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