Gender Issues and Business Case

What is the progress of women in the accounting profession?

For the past 20 years, women have represented about 50% (1) of new CPAs in the accounting profession. Yet today, women account for only 14.3% (2) of Executive Officer positions in business and industry and 19% (1) of partners in CPA firms nationwide. 

Why is this issue a business imperative?

The progress of women within the profession is a business imperative significantly tied to organizational sustainability, because:

  • Profession demographics are changing and baby boomers will be retiring in significant numbers during the next 10 years.
  • Sustainable growth models are at risk if a significant portion of the accounting profession is not maximizing its potential.
  • Viable exit strategies are impacted as women represent more than 50% of the profession but less than 25% of the owners.
  • Research shows a need for diverse talent to effectively address increased complexity in business.
  • Demographics in the marketplace are shifting to increased numbers of female business owners and decision makers and requests for proposals requiring a diverse team.
  • Firms are losing a significant portion of their eligible, talented candidates for partnership and succession.
  • Firms’ inability to create a family and gender-friendly environment is known to be detrimental to both staff and client retention.

AICPA’s Focus on Women

The Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee’s roots in the AICPA date back to 1989 when the AICPA created the Upward Mobility of Women Task Force. Over the years, that task force evolved into what is now the Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee (WIEC), the AICPA’s driving force for women’s progress in the profession. Today, WIEC consists of 13 volunteers, both women and men, who work with and in the CPA profession in a variety of ways. This group is dedicated to executing WIEC’s mission.

The WIEC’s mission is to promote within the accounting profession an environment that provides opportunities for:

  • Equal engagement of women and men in leadership of the accounting profession
  • The advancement of women to positions of leadership
  • The successful integration of personal and professional lives

To accomplish this, the WIEC provides workshops, webinars, articles, a speakers bureau, women’s network and research to educate and support both individual women and organizations.

1. AICPA 2013 Trends in Supply and Demand
2. Catalyst, unpublished data, 2013