{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Does anyone else find it depressing that there are so few women in leadership positions across the B4? There are hardly any role models for young women coming up through the firms.", "post_id": "5a07330f292d5300118cb2a7", "reply_count": 81, "vote_count": 45, "bowl_id": "564a5cdb94887803001dd07c", "bowl_name": "Accounting", "feed_type": "crowd" }

Does anyone else find it depressing that there are so few women in leadership positions across the B4? There are hardly any role models for young women coming up through the firms.

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I am a female, a mother, and a partner. I find lots of comments I agree with and many I do not. Are where we need to be? No. But have we made progress? Yes. I think it is wrong to say there are “token” women in leadership. That implies they are there just because they are women and that is simply wrong, and offensive. At EY we have several women on the board, as office managing partners, running sub service lines. You don’t have to look too hard to see them. Every single one earned it. That aside, there is no question that women, especially mothers, expectant mothers, end especially new mothers are subjected to unfair scrutiny. And, that can lead to unintended bias and discrimination which causes us to lose talent. As a firm, we make money on our people and it is therefore only in our own best interests to find ways to combat that and get rid of unintended bias. How we staff people, how we evaluate performance, what support we give our people all have to be better. But there are two sides. Making partner isn’t easy. If you want a job where you will be able to get your kids on and off the us, be home for dinner every night and be the primary caretaker.. being a partner probably isn’t for you. You cannot have it all, at the same time. That is a fantasy. It just isn’t the job. When I talk to women who come to me for advice about partner track one of the first things I ask is, “have you talked with your husband ? Does he understand what it will take and is he supportive?” There is a reason so many partners have stay at home spouses - it is one of the best ways to make it work. If you want to be a partner, have you considered if your husband would be willing to either stay at home or take a step back in his career? Choices have to be made. In my case, we went all in on my career and my husband stayed home. I am very involved with my kids but I am not the primary caregiver. He is. I have chaperoned school trips, but I have missed Halloweens and birthdays. I put important school events in my calendar and have scheduled meetings around them, but the pediatrician knows my husband better than she knows me. When one of the kids is sick, the school calls him. These are the choices we made and I cannot imagine having done it any other way. But, it takes a certain man to do what my husband did - many are not willing. So, I guess my point is it is a give and take. The firm needs to do better. But we have to be realistic in what being a partner is all about. The men that make partner don’t have it all, at the same time and so we can’t expect to either.

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EY14 is 100% on point. Female Senior Manager, two children 4 and under, full-time working husband here. Out of the 5 start classes (4 ahead of me plus mine) I am the only one left, male or female. I have seen them all leave for a variety of reasons. I have seen several women leave to stay at home to take care of kid(s) full time, and I respect their choice. This career is intense, demanding, and requires commitment. A marriage and children are intense, demanding, and require commitment. You cannot have it all all at once. You also will have to make career choices. If I want to make partner, my husband already knows he may need to go part time. We share responsibilities, and during my busy seasons (or constantly busy times anymore) he takes more responsibility for the household than I do, despite working full time as well. If women want more leaders that are women we have to make the tough choice to stay, not cry to the firm. I speak from experience, as I have come back from maternity leaves and pumped/breastfed, missed field trips and other such items, but that is a choice I have made. It was and is difficult, but I see my male colleagues going through many of the same issues. You need to be a partner with your spouse and a partner with your firm to make it

EY 14 and EY OP - one possible idea could be on site child care. I realize that is not always the best anyway depending on office location (hour long commutes probably won’t make it better to bring them in either) but it would help solve some of the idea that employees don’t get to see their children at all in a given day (ie 12+ hour days). Regarding working from home, I have always felt it’s beneficial for the employee and not the employer. While employees may be more productive on given days, chances are they are not being as effective of a team member as they would in the office. I recognize for some teams it works fine but in general I have seen teams flourish as soon as team members came together more often vs. working from home.

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Every firm has token women in leadership positions, but my point is that they are few and far between.

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Change will only come and be widespread if the institutional policies and cultures within the firms change. Staff classes generally come in at 50/50, and then women start dropping like flies at senior and above. The firms like to talk about their great parental leave benefits and I agree that they are excellent, but parental leave is only the beginning. Upon return from leave, there are still children to care for. The firm needs to understand that and come up with innovative ways to make it realistic for women to continue working at the big 4 and still feel like they are being good parents. In order to do that, the culture among leadership needs to change.

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If you look at the successful men and women in the firms who have kids, they almost always have one parent who stays home or works a very light schedule. The job is just too demanding to have kids and two full time working parents.

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I think if we didn’t see both men and women working 60-90 hours a week it would be a better place for all parents and all employees

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Cathy engelbert ftw!

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You are going to see less women in leadership roles at EY with all the changes to “flexibility”. Speaking as a working mother, I️ have no interest in begging my family counselor to work from home when needed. Not to mention the fact that EY has been quietly firing women with young children over the past couple of years. I know of a few women who were let go almost immediately upon returning from maternity leave. The only women the firm opts to keep in are the ones who are either willing to not have a family or the ones who choose the firm over their family. That is not a positive message to send to the young women of the firm. Especially since they are the ones that will be significantly affected by these new policies.

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Head of assurance at PwC is a woman.

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I'd say we're doing better than industry at least. Which isn't saying much. Agree with STM1 but I'll add that the other side to this is that the men who rise to senior leadership generally choose work over family but require a stay at home wife to make it work. So how can these men possibly drive the change

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EYOP and EY2 - totally on it! Couldn't agree more. Those that thrive in PA are college grads, those w/o children and those that have someone at home attending to all life's details while they focus on work 14 hrs a day. Things have changed over the years, but not enough. At some point it comes down to a personal decision of whether you can and want to meet the expectations of PA's travel and long hours. Unfortunately, if you are a mother that wants to be involved with her children, thriving in PA can be a challenge.

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Anyone else find it depressing that there aren’t more midgets in the NBA? The team owners need to find a way to make accommodations for people of all heights so that everyone can play.

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PwC 5 - she may have more flexibility in certain aspects of her job than the rest of your team, but trust me, she does not have more flexibility overall. I have been of plenty of teams that have functioned in a highly effective manner with one or more people working remotely. If your team is incapable of doing so, that’s your issue and you need coaching on the matter. If you want an idea of what a working mom’s schedule looks like, it may go something like this: wake up and get ready, feed children, get children off to where they are going. Go to work and work for 8-9 hours. Depending on the age of the child and if the mother is breastfeeding, she may need to take a couple of breaks throughout the day to pump and make sure her infant has food. Finish work around 5, get children, make and feed them dinner, spend an hour or so playing with them, get children bathed and in bed, sign back on and work for another couple of hours, fall into bed around 11, wake up in the middle of the night feed an infant or comfort a small child who had a bad dream, fall back asleep, perhaps be woken a second time by infant/child, fall back asleep and then wake up in the morning a repeat, every single day. There is no break. So think about that the next time you resent a working mother for having more “flexibility” than you. Working mothers have the hardest job you can possibly imagine, especially when the children are young and breastfeeding is thrown into the mix.

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It's definitely getting better..I was in kpmg and now in EY and saw a lot more women in Sr partner roles over last 5 years...it can only go in the right direction! 👍

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EY6 - you are part of the problem. See my post above re: institutional sexism. If the firms want to change, they need to come up with innovative ways to make the job work for working mothers. They like to plaster it all over when they are on some “Best Firm for Working Mothers” list because of the parental leave policy, but they also need to make it work for women long term. Personally I think they need to find a way to tie retention of women or implementation of flexibility initiatives in general to Partner compensation. Then perhaps you will start to see some real change.

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I don't get it. Why does someone's gender have any impact on your everyday life here? It's completely sexist to promote anyone based on anything but merit because you have, as has been pointed out here, token women and diversity promotions which makes people resent the whole process. Even if you get promoted to partner, you will always wonder how much your gender got you there as opposed to your work and everyone around you will do the same.

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M1 - I definitely agree with you. To take this a step further, these expectations and the culture within PA were put in place over the years by the men in leadership positions, all of whom presumably had wives at home attending to their families. As I mentioned in my post above, the policies and culture need to shift away from those that promote the institutional sexism preventing more women from thriving in the profession.

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People choose to have families. Those choices have consequences. You have to choose which is more important to you. Jobs have requirements. The two don’t always align the way you’d like. I choose not to have a family/life to succeed at work. That is my choice. I don’t complain one bit about it. There is always someone willing to take your job and make different choices to enable them to move up.

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Sometimes I think it is the claimed flexibility that’s the problem. Firms say you can reduce your work schedule. But penalize those who do- lower ratings because how can you reward someone who works fewer hours (forgetting that we then taking a smaller paycheck) and when you are ready to come back full-time, you can’t get back on partner track (too many years in your position/too old). It’s not about expecting people to pick up our slack, it’s about letting people slow down/speed up (with the appropriate salary) and not punishing them for doing so.

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So let me get this straight. You’re pissed that a job requires more time and takes away from being a mother? It’s hard to do both. I get it but the job is the job. It’s client service and there are things that come with that. PA is about running people hard until they break or make partner. It’s the job. Some can make it work and some can’t.

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Mark W is cool, but I would love to see a woman as our CEO in the future.

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