Top 100 CPA and business advisory firm Plante Moran recently launched its Women in Leadership initiative with a goal of attracting, retaining, developing and advancing women into leadership positions within the firm.

The initiative is intended to strengthen the firm’s attention to these areas of its pipeline, which have included one of the higher percentages of female partners among the top accounting firms, and a turnover rate of 12 percent.

“Historically, Plante Moran has been a pioneer in women’s issues,” said Gordon Krater, managing partner at Plante Moran and the initiative’s management team sponsor, in a statement. “For more than 25 years, we have had the Personal Tightrope Action Committee to create policies and practices to help retain women and working mothers at the firm; we’ve had flexible work arrangements and we’ve encouraged balance for all of our staff members. While we have done these things well, we can’t afford to stand still; competition for the best candidates is intense, and we want to continue to be able to attract and retain strong performers.”

Susan Perlin, audit partner in the firm’s not-for-profit services group, 31-year veteran of Plante Moran and mother of two, will be leading the Women in Leadership initiative.

“Other accounting firms, law firms and Fortune 500 companies are facing similar issues with women in leadership roles, so we are not unique,” Perlin stated. “However, we need to reposition ourselves as a leader in the space and this is where the Women in Leadership initiative comes into play.”

The positioning includes the initiative’s four key strategies:

•    Dedicated leadership, senior management team involvement, and coordinated activities and programs, with a steering committee of members of the firm’s management team, other partners, and liaisons from the human resources, training and marketing groups.

•    Focus on increasing visibility of women leaders internally and externally, including presenting inspirational profiles of female partners and managers on the firm’s intranet, and featuring them in panels speaking to female staff.

•    Targeted career development opportunities for women leaders.

•    Continued development of customized career and life integration strategies.

“We want to increase our focus on developing staff faster and better and developing competencies that will allow more women to become partners,” Krater stated. “Success will be shown by an increase in the percentage of women partners, women in leadership positions and when Plante Moran has a larger representation of women where there aren’t currently women leaders internally. That will not only define success, but serve as a competitive advantage for the firm and our clients.”