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Women strengthen the accounting profession

By Shelly Frazier, Senior Manager, Women’s Initiatives

International Women’s Day — a time to celebrate achievements of women and acknowledge the valuable insights of women in the accounting profession — was this week (8 March 2021).

This year, we asked AICPA and CIMA members to share their perspectives on the pandemic:

  • How has the pandemic affected your work/life and how have you managed that?
  • What advice can you give other accountants and finance professionals about succeeding during this pandemic?
  • What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

The responses were fantastic! Hear insights directly from the leaders in this motivational video: Women strengthen the profession, during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

Key themes of the video:

  • Women are resilient and continue to achieve goals
  • Mental health and well-being are extremely important and should be top priorities
  • Companies need to feel empowered to think differently about how to support and promote women

In true fashion, the women shared perspectives that convey a holistic view — a characteristic often attributed to women. More than one member thanked her team and family, and there was a respectful nod to ancestors. Judith Hunt, ACMA, CGMA, National Director Business Systems of Synapse Australia Limited acknowledged the original custodians of the land now known as West End, a suburb of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia — the land on which she lives and works. She wanted to pay her respects to their elders — past, present and emerging.

Challenging times

McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2020 discusses the disruption that COVID-19 has caused in corporate America and how women — especially mothers, senior-level professionals and Black women — have faced distinct challenges. One in four women considered downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce due to the pandemic.

Women all over the world have shared similar challenges.

Jonyce Bullock, CPA, CGMA CEO, Squire and Company, encourages us to clarify working hours with our families and create boundaries, so we don’t feel like we’re ‘working all the time’. She goes on to advise that we focus on the positives by making ‘a list of all of the things you’ve been able to enjoy as a result of the pandemic’.

Gender equality benefits women, men and the transgender community

The younger generation always stands on the shoulders of those who’ve gone before, and ‘no nation in the world can achieve greatness unless women are working side by side with men’, says Aida Lim Abdullah, CEO of Penang Halal International.

Men can be feminists, too, and acknowledge that women lead in meaningful ways, offering trustworthy advice and reliable counsel. Management consultant Hannah Theodore, ACMA, CGMA, points out: ‘Organisations with gender equality and diversity can innovate more and drive better economic outcomes’.

Women in leadership are influential, paving the way for others. Marie Large, FCMA, CGMA, VP of Sales & Commercial Management Business Area, Digital Services at Ericsson, encourages women to ‘never limit your aspirations’ and Irelan Tam, FCMA, CGMA, Chair of CIMA Hong Kong advises that companies create an inclusive, empathetic and supportive workplace for all staff.

Self-reflection leads to personal growth and stronger communities

‘The pandemic stopped the world in its tracks and provided a rare opportunity to pause and, hopefully, spend some time on self-discovery’, says Crystal Gao, FCMA, CGMA, Chief Financial Officer, Lightspeed China Partners. ‘I hope you have some time to think through your priorities and your life direction’.

Take time this Women’s History Month to reflect on the achievements of the women in your life, and let's continue to push for women's leadership in the accounting profession.

Jump in the conversation with these hashtags: #CIMAWiLForum; #IWD2021; #ChooseToChallenge, and join us on 23 March at 6:00pm GMT for the webcast Forging the Path: Women in the Accounting Profession for tips on what you can do.

For more than a century, people around the world have honored International Women’s Day to celebrate the social, cultural, economic and political accomplishments of women. This special day in March reminds us that we must continue making strides towards gender equality. As Kudzai K. Zindi, ACMA, CGMA, financial controller at Smurfit Kappa says, ‘It is still not time to rest on our laurels, as there are still many glass ceilings to be broken’.