December 13, 2018

A Collective Effort: Building Future Women Leaders

December 13, 2018


A Collective Effort: Building Future Women Leaders
By: Amber K. Goering, CPA, CGMA
Shareholder, Goering and Granatino, P.A.


“How can women reach the top in accounting?”  This Fortune headline appeared in print a mere three years ago. While 50 percent of accounting graduates are now women, only a small number of female accounting professionals have senior roles in firms and companies. This number is growing, but there is still much room for improvement.

In order to build a female-friendly profession, together we need to create a profession where women thrive and where more women break glass ceilings. I started my own practice after a previous employer expected me to return from maternity leave after only three weeks. Instead, I took five. During that time I researched starting a practice with the vision of providing a working environment that I desired as an employee. It has been the best thing that ever happened to me, but it should not be the way women have to rise into leadership roles.

The accounting profession owes a lot to its female pioneers. I recently heard the story of Nella Ebert who became a CPA back in 1951. At that time she was required to include her height and weight on her resume. Thanks to Ebert and others like her, we have evolved past that. Yet, workplaces across America have significant areas for improvement and accounting firms and departments are no exception.

For women to reach the top in accounting, they need to:

  • Spend time with other women. When women come together and support one another, we can all do more than we thought possible. I still get together annually with 10 or so women I met early in my career. We go spend a weekend at the lake and just talk. These like-minded women continue to inspire me and the time spent with them is invaluable.
  • Make friends in the profession. Women should not be afraid to build relationships with female peers, even competitors. I am fortunate to enjoy a great network of women who will answer questions I have as they arise. The accounting profession is very open to sharing information and ideas, and that makes it special.
  • Find a good mentor. My first mentor was a man who supported the advancement of women before it was trendy. The key is to find someone, male or female, who embraces and supports the advancement of women and will invest themselves into another’s career.
  • Have a career plan. Women need to know where they want their career to go. With that knowledge, take it a step further and outline the steps needed to get there. Those who walked a similar path can provide invaluable advice.
  • Find time in the spotlight. Many women tend to shy away from the spotlight when they should be pushing themselves to try new things. My extroverted personality makes it easier for me tackle situations that may intimidate some – but, sometimes, it’s still difficult! However, a woman should know who she is and push herself to take on new roles or situations that play to her individual strengths. 
  • Light the way for others. Women should pick up the torch and light the way for those who will follow behind them. There are great women who poured themselves into my career. I’m forever grateful for the doors they opened for me.

As a profession, there is still a lot to be tackled when it comes to the advancement, recognition and reward of women.  When half of our leadership pool is female, we must invest in the women coming up in accounting’s ranks. That requires empowering them in addition to developing a culture that provides equal grounds for success. It’s how we will keep our profession moving forward.

Ignite the conversation!

What ways are you inspiring women in your organization?

What motivates you professionally? Is there a female leader who has inspired you to follow your career passion? Give her a shout-out by nominating her for a KSCPA/AICPA 'Women to Watch' Award!

The Ignite blog is an official publication of the Kansas Society of CPAs.
Copyright 2018