In honor of Mother’s Day this past weekend, it is important for accounting firms, still, to make sure that they’re looking at ways to retain the moms in the practice, as well as women overall.
In spite of women making up more than half the accounting graduates in the country, less than 20% of partners in accounting firms nationwide are women. Somewhere between graduation and partnership at their firms, we’re losing the women.
I’m not going to tell you anything new when I say that long hours, stress, burnout and the burden of business development in addition to family commitments becomes too much for moms. Especially at the partner level, the work expectations exceed just the 9-5 billable hours.
Partners in a practice are expected to partake in business building activities as well which may mean networking meetings, events and client relationship building outside of normal work hours. Combine that with getting the kids off the bus, dinner on the table, homework done and everyone in bed on time, and it just becomes too much.
So how can we keep more of our moms? And why is it so important? In addition to positive diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to support women into partnership roles, moms are truly the most efficient team members you have. Anyone who can carry on an uninterrupted conversation while making a meal, while the baby cries, and still show up on time for a meeting is going to come to work with a whole other level of project management and efficiency skills.
Mothers don’t come to work ready to waste the day. Every minute is precious and we have an uncanny ability to focus on task completion.
Strategies you can focus on to help support your moms need to focus on meeting their needs both in and out of the workplace.
If you’re not set up for remote work to allow your moms to work from home, you’re already way behind. The kids will get sick, trust me. Giving your moms the ability to be flexible will help them to feel supported and less stressed if they cannot be in the office for the day. For me, even being able to get through answering my inbox at home on a day when my little one is out of school goes a long way to helping me feel less stressed in the morning.
Limit meetings for moms. If someone else can take the meeting, let them. Moms need flexibility above all else. We have responsibilities to our families that are ultimately more important to us than work. If you make us choose, we are going to choose our kids. If you don’t make us choose, you’ll end up with a hardworking, loyal team member and leader.
Review the commitments of your team’s mothers and make sure their schedule isn’t overburdened with meetings that reduce flexibility. Or, at the very least, make sure there is a pinch hitter to step in when needed.
Make the work environment work for them. Consider flexible work hours as an alternative to a rigid 9-5 style schedule, mother’s rooms for nursing, and encourage mental health time off.
Supporting your moms will pay you long term dividends, but statistically the industry still has a long way to go in terms of making our moms a top priority.
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