Gain A Competitive Edge By Closing The Professional Workforce Gender Gap

 

Lindsay Gaal is the director of human resources for Friedman LLP, a public accounting and consulting firm with offices in Philadelphia, Marlton, Cape May, Toms River and Linwood. She actively works to recruit and retain female talent. Gaal states that, “The public accounting industry has historically been male dominated.”

According to Gaal, “There has been a shift in the industry with a larger female presence.” Making the effort to recruit, retain and develop women within the organization gives the firm a competitive advantage, “including but not limited to recruiting new employees, deepening our talent pool, mentoring young women, bringing in new clients who are women-owned businesses and so much more,” says Gaal. Currently, 46 percent of Friedman’s professionals are women. At a time when female accounting professionals have more options, such as careers on Wall Street or in the legal profession, how does Friedman attract women candidates?

“We offer significant flexibility in work-life balance, or as I like to say, work-life success,” says Gaal. “We have Fridays off in the summer, giving women, especially those with children, the opportunity to spend extended weekends with family. In addition, we create flexible work schedules as requested by our employees, whether that be a condensed work week or work from home options to limit commuting time.”

Friedman offers paid FMLA, training to support growth and success and has implemented health and wellness initiatives and benefits that, according to Gaal, appeal to women. “We also introduce women to others in the firm when they are seeking advice on any topic, whether it be balancing home and work or becoming a partner.”

In 2012, Friedman launched the Women’s Development Network (WDN). The network’s mission statement is “to recruit, retain and promote women within the Friedman network while cultivating professional and personal development in an environment where leadership and integrity are paramount.” To achieve this end, WDN hosts in-house and external events. “We conduct leadership trainings and host speakers on topics such as financial planning, the art of negotiation, dressing for success, networking and more. In addition, we host events where we can give back to the community, both monetarily and with our time.”

This focus on closing the gender gap has paid off. “We typically have not had issues retaining woman at the firm,” Gaal reports. Women make up a large percentage of the new hiring classes at accounting firms, but retention often becomes a problem. However, the mixture of open-door policies, flexible scheduling and personal support at Friedman has helped to encourage women entering the accounting profession to stick with it and grow into leadership roles.

 

 

This article was written by Gillian Burdett of Examiner.com for CBS Small Business Pulse.

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