As the face—and gender—of leading accounting professionals is expected to change with the next generation, women will be critical to the success of their firms, according to the 2011 Accounting MOVE Project Executive Report released today.

The report focused on the expectations of millennial women for their careers in accounting, based on dozens of interviews, reviews of best practices at 25 firms and statistical analysis. 

Women make up over half of today’s accounting graduates, meaning firms will need more female partners to remain competitive as baby boomers ready for retirement, according to the report release.

Also among the report’s findings:

    •    Progressive firms, such as Rothstein Kass of Roseland, N.J., have designed business development programs to help Millennials gain networking skills essential for winning clients.•    Firms, like Moss Adams of Seattle, use career advisors and one-on-one conversations as a critical part of helping women Millennials envision how they can craft career paths that include personal and family pursuits.
    •    Pay equity and workplace fairness are top-of-mind for women Millennials, and they seek the kind of transparency on these topics offered by progressive firms such as Plante & Moran, Clifton Gunderson and Baker Tilly.
    •    Millennial women are already attracted to careers in public accounting partially because of the profession’s reputation for work-life innovation. But firms must reinterpret those programs to explicitly include millennial men so they won’t lose credibility with both genders.
    •    Women are pulling in new clients through innovative business development programs.
    •    Pay equity must be validated by audits and reviews to validate women’s trust in firm leadership.
    •    Firms that publicly communicate the results of their diversity programs instead of just the activities rapidly gain authority with clients, employees and potential recruits.

      “The data and analysis of Millennials in the 2011 Accounting MOVE Project Executive Report provides new and compelling reasons why career advancement for women of all ages must be actively cultivated in order for accounting firms to stay competitive,” said Vivian Moller, president of MOVE Project partner the American Society of Women Accountants, in a statement. “The recommendations of this report need to be implemented to retain the fresh talent Millennials offer and increase the number of women partners in order for firms to succeed into the future.”
      In addition to ASWA, the Accounting MOVE Project is also partnered with the American Woman’s Society of CPAs, is produced by strategic communication firm Wilson-Taylor Associates and receives chartered sponsorship from Moss Adams and Rothstein Kass.

      “The report, derived from personal stories that reveal common experiences, contains detailed recommendations relevant to public accounting firms of every size,” said Tammy Young, managing director of human resources at Moss Adams, in a statement. “The MOVE Project has quickly become a go-to resource and a powerful tool to trigger organizational self-examination and soul searching.”

      Wilson-Taylor developed the report’s MOVE methodology, which refers to four factors: M: money and fair pay practices; O: opportunity for advancement and leadership development; V: vital supports like work-life programs; and E: entrepreneurship.

      “Millennials have grown up with technology and the fast paced changes in our business climate,” said Kimberly A. Fantaci, executive director of the American Woman’s Society of CPAs, in a statement. “Integrating their personal ambitions, Millennials are leading the initiatives in the use of social media for business. They are smart and innovative, and do not want to be in a stagnant work environment.”

      The ASWA and AWSCPA’s list of the Best Accounting Firms for Women, based on the 2011 Accounting MOVE Project research, will be released in mid-May.

      The full report can be found on the ASWA, AWSCPA and Wilson-Taylor websites.