CPA firms have historically faced challenges related to a shortage of experienced talent. While a number of factors contribute, the key issue has been the obstacle of achieving work-life balance in this field.
The Challenge is Inclusion
The accounting field is currently 63% female, with more women in leadership positions than ever before. While an exciting statistic, the reality is that many women still struggle to advance through the conventional corporate model due to goals outside of their career. As women, we invest in our careers and ourselves, with the knowledge that at some point the desire to start a family may force us to consider walking away from what we’ve built and to make hard decisions about re-prioritizing our time, energy and impact.
Many women struggle to negotiate a balance between career and family commitments that affords them the ability to thrive in all parts of their lives, not just merely manage both. As a result, many leave the public accounting, or at minimum step away from their career for a period of time to raise their family. So if the profession is now made up of more than 50% women, it is easy to deduce where the experienced talent is going.
This doesn’t just apply to moms either. There are plenty of dads out there in need of flexible work arrangements, too. Family structures can differ greatly among employees, but this isn’t the only reason to offer something as easy to provide as flexibility.
Regardless of gender and family responsibility, there are generational factors that influence the need and desire for flexibility. Millennials look to find forward-thinking employers who embrace the technology they know is available to them. And on the opposite end of the career journey, we find the baby boomers, who might simply be looking to scale back their busy season as they transition toward retirement.
It’s Time for Change
Today’s world celebrates diversity and individuality in so many progressive ways, yet even the more innovative firms often try to develop a one size fits all approach to flexible work policies, if they are open to offering flex arrangements at all.
So while we’ve made leaps and bounds over the past 50 years with respect to equality in the workplace, we may have lost sight of something more important – equity. It’s about retaining qualified talent by offering flexibility around a person’s individual needs and not someone else’s.