Ladies in Big 4 audit - have you successfully worked a reduced schedule (80%) during busy season without that impacting your chances for further promotion? Were you able to actually stick to it? Or am I looking for a unicorn and I just need to leave or look for a non-client facing role? My kids are young and I want to be present for them on weekends. I did the math and with 2mos in busy season, that's 2+ yrs I'm basically just putting them to bed w/o time for much else.

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For all my colleagues reduced schedule meant same work for the less pay. It's super frustrating and overall has proven to be extremely hard in my office. Yes set up the boundaries blah blah, good luck with that.

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It only worked for me to limit my client load to a couple of engagements.

I’ve been on a 70% flex for almost 5 years and it has worked well for me. You have to be able to advocate for yourself and discern what is truly urgent vs what can wait for another day. It can be done for sure, but is a give and take!

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It worked for me as well. I varied from 55 to 75%. I was flexible with when I worked so I was busy (50+ hours) about 3 weeks a year and around 40 for another 3 to get through busy season but I basically took off completely several months of the year.

For what its worth, I was part of a women's roundtable group led by 2 female partners when I was a new senior about 5 yrs ago. They talked about flexible and reduced schedules blah blah blah and tried to convince us we can have it all. When asked, neither ever took a reduced schedule. One has a stay at home husband for the kids and the other's husband had a high paying job early on in their marriage so I'm sure they were able to afford nannies. If anything, that roundtable made it 100% clear the firms expect you to still put them first and the female partners who made it were able to do that because of having a supportive husband or were financially secure already.

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OP if you have time - can "spare" 2 years or so - it is possible if you lower your expectations from yourself. I.e. if you are ok to be 2-3 rated for two years. This translated into doing your minimum and having just a bit of overtime, but no massive non-client projects and stuff that makes you 1. Then once the kids are older you can go back to full-time and full steam, catch up and make P. You have to be super intentional about this change. When you try to go part time but have your T1 I think when the burn out and frustration are inevitable. And it's even harder if you are indeed a high performer and used to be very busy and highly impactful SM.

My story, for what it’s worth. I did an 80% schedule a SM1 but also transferred to an indirect client service role. It worked for a couple of years but then I came off of it to make the push to MD. I’m not saying I couldn’t have gotten there on a FWA but those I saw took a lot longer. I also found it wasn’t worth the pay cut when I was still expected to do 15% overtime on top of my reduced schedule. Personally, I think the better path is finding an indirect client service role where the hours may be 48-50 year round but you have upward potential, flexibility to do things with your kids in the workday, and still make a pretty great salary. I don’t think I’ve ever missed a dinner (unless I was traveling) and I take the kids to school every day.

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What counts as 80% during busy season?

I know there are some people in my office and their hours on the schedules show less. I don’t know what there actually week looks like.

I think a reduced schedule would impact promotions because you aren’t getting the same experience than those working 100%. Some people are able to set boundaries but if you’re career driven it will be more difficult to not “do whatever it takes” which means you’ll work the same for less money. If you have great leaders at your firm it’s possible but I would think about switching to industry. It has given me so much more time with my kids. We close in 3 business days so those 3 days are super busy but other than that I take my kids to activities and practices, eat dinner with them, bathe them and put them to bed, and get online after they go to bed if I need to. I rarely work weekends and if I do it’s for a few hours. I make $190k plus 25% bonus and I have upward mobility at my company so it has not been a career limiting move for me to go to industry.

I was just thinking part-time for Jan and Feb but yes, that would be working full-time (at least 40 hrs) for less money. If I can find a role like that in industry, that would be great!

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