When it comes to hiring strong female accounting talent, there is no cookie-cutter approach. While many accounting firms correctly recognize the need for female talent in their practice, too many treat related recruiting and retention activities as one-size fits all.
I spoke with one of my peers Joanne Cleaver, she had some great insights and interesting perspectives on how to nurture female talent in the accounting space.
The most important discovery she has made, however, is that what works for one woman might not work for another. While many accounting firms correctly recognize the need for female talent in their practice, too many treat related recruiting and retention activities as one-size-fits-all. Despite their best intentions, this approach won’t move the needle.
Joanne stresses the importance of a business development strategy. Noting that it’s not uncommon for a woman to only have her first exposure to business development once she’s reached a senior management level. This timing often coincides with when a women is beginning to have children, which can be an overwhelming experience.
She went on to mention that accounting firms should implement business development training from the beginning, rather than throwing senior female talent “into the proverbial deep end” without a lifeboat.
That’s not to say that entry-level employees and senior managers should be held to the same business development standard. However, all employees should have an appropriate level of business development exposure, regardless of title.
Joanne also believes it’s important to understand that networking is very different today than it was 10 years ago. She goes on to say that relationships that were made on the golf course in the past are now made in cyberspace via tools like Facebook and LinkedIn.
“Your business development value is no longer based only on traditional factors, such as how many non-profit or charity boards you sit on, but also on how well you engage with users on social media,” she said. Thus adding another dimension to the importance of a business’s online presence.
By understanding this paradigm shift, you are able to accurately determine the best suitors for future business development roles and responsibilities. By scaling-up business development responsibilities over time, employees build confidence and gain relevant experience. So, when it comes time to drive and own a firm’s business development activities, female employees will feel empowered to succeed, not fearful or overwhelmed.
To learn more about diversifying accounting talent, join us at our Women in Business Breakfast at Xerocon San Francisco. You can register here.