March 31, 2021

Stories and Advice from Women in the Accounting Industry

Our team recently held a virtual panel for Women’s History Month at our monthly town hall. The panel featured various talented women at our firm, including tax, audit, and administrative professionals. They held an insightful discussion about women in the workplace and the accounting industry and gave some valuable advice that we would like to share. Here are some highlights from our discussion:

What obstacles have you encountered as a female in your role, and how have you overcome them?

“One example of a stereotype I’ve experienced in my career is that women always want to get married and have children. There was always this expectation of that. I remember being asked, ‘When are you going to have kids? How are you going to continue to do this job and work this many hours?’ I was always fighting with the fact that I may not want to follow that stereotype, but even if I did, why is that something that should affect my career, my goals, or where I was heading?”

“The hardest part is that if you’re an assertive woman, it’s taken differently from an assertive man. They might throw it off their shoulder for them. But for a woman, you’re told to pipe down, settle down, and not get uptight. I looked to people around me, like heads of departments, and took a lot of advice from them to overcome it. You need to remain true to yourself.

“I was one of maybe three females at my old firm and would sometimes say something, and one of the partners just couldn’t understand me for some reason. My male counterpart would say almost the same thing in a different way. That partner just didn’t want to listen to me. The way I got through this was through other females supporting me.”

“Many obstacles I have faced came from college before coming into the industry. In college, I was in all these science classes and accounting classes, and a lot of them were male-dominated. So you mold this idea that you have to work harder for your voice to be heard. When I first came to TF, I saw so many women in so many different positions throughout the firm. That was welcoming for me to see that in such a small firm.”

“My biggest is twofold. Sometimes I have a hard time differentiating between my own experience and what society or other people have told me that my experience should be in my role. There have been some instances in my career where I’ve been talked down to, or my boundaries have been violated in a way that I don’t see happen with people who are at a ‘higher level’ than I might be. I’m lucky now that I have an abundant amount of people who tell me that I’m valuable, smart, and they build me up. I’ve done self-reflection and looking inside myself to see how I really feel. Am I putting something on to make myself seem stronger? Or did I actually have this experience?”

“When I started at TF, I had a baby and was working full-time. I felt like I needed to find a different option for balance. I thought about it and decided that I would request to work from home one day a week, maybe two days. It’s strange to say since we’re all working from home, but at the time, it was a bold request. I went to the people that could help me make that happen. I didn’t just complain to the person I shared an office with or my friends outside the firm. It’s easy to think that someone knows what you need or that someone will reach out to you and give you some suggestions. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to be bold, speak up, and come with solutions. I offered solutions, ways I could handle it, and stay in communication. I viewed it as a great opportunity and a way to help others someday have more flexibility.

What advice would you give someone new to the accounting industry?

“Set your goals to advance your career. If you don’t like something, change it. You’re not a tree; you’re not stuck. Inquire about different things that you can learn. Don’t lose that drive to ask questions.”

“Work hard. Do something you like. But don’t let it run your life. Some people think that their job is who they are and their entire identity, but it’s not what defines you as a person. The things you do on the outside are your identity. Back in the 2008 recession, I lost my job, and there was no coming back for a while. It took me a good six months to figure out, ‘Whoa, wait a minute – I’ve got to figure out who I am outside of what I was doing and reinvent myself from that.’ You see it too much with people.”

“Sometimes you need two mentors – one from inside your profession or firm, and another you can talk to outside of work who knows what you’re going through.”

“If you’re new to the industry, use your innovative ideas and bring those to the table. Use your good ideas and your voice, and don’t be intimidated. You’re a valued member, and you’re there for a reason.

“Find people that can support you, but know that you can own your career and can navigate it how YOU want to navigate it. Also, if you’ve been in the industry longer, be that advocate for someone else. If someone has ever encouraged you, you need to pass it forward.”

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions because that’s how you learn. You’re not expected to know everything. Do your due diligence, but also reach out for help and collaborate because that’s when the best ideas come out.”

 

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