Wendy Stevens, Partner, Practice Leader, Quality & Risk Management, Mazars
The women’s program at Mazars is a central part of our strategic plan to enhance the development and retention of women leaders, creating an environment where all of our best and brightest excel.
As the Chair of the Women@Mazars Steering Committee, I can use the opportunity created by Women’s History Month to consider the reasons why we need to highlight the accomplishments of women, both inside the firm and in broader society. The AICPA’s 2017 Firm Gender Survey reports that women hold 55% of middle management roles in public accounting but only 22% at the partner rank, with the number of women partners declining. At Mazars, we are working hard to reverse those numbers.
Women@Mazars is a long-term effort supporting the full potential of women leaders at Mazars through education, awareness, and improving visibility of and access to role models. We actively engage all men and women at the firm, building diverse teams to enhance the growth of the firm and the individual. Our communication plan is the glue that keeps these components together and at the same time it opens up the dialog and empowers women.
We have developed programs to elevate our women leaders of all levels with our Be Visible campaign. We have also started a podcast series highlighting successful women entrepreneurs, but also addressing work-life balance and women’s health issues. For we developed powerful campaigns around #PressForProgress (to follow on social media visit #womenatmazars), where we asked our women what progress they have seen and what they would like to see.
The #pressforprogress tag today, Thursday, March 8th is working for change because empirical data clearly highlights that the most profitable and otherwise successful organizations are diverse in thinking and composition of their leadership and employees. Women@Mazars wants to inspire our talented women and assist them in growing. We are challenging ourselves, sometimes uncomfortably, to not accept the status quo and any current behaviors which reinforce conventional stereotypes and biases, or exclude women from success and recognition of their talents. Our leadership groups and talent managers are currently developing appropriate benchmarks to measure our progress towards improved status for women throughout the firm, and related advancements in the next 20 years.
Leading Women@Mazars has been a level-setting experience for me. Through books, blogs and our Women@Mazars Learning and Development offerings, I have come to better understand the common myths and issues about gender that exist in our workplace. Gaining this knowledge made me acutely aware of the differences experienced as a result of gender in our professional and personal lives, including thought habits, due to the broader culture. I am now consciously more evaluative and inclusive, in terms of selection of project teams and other areas where collective thinking will drive a desired objective or result. I am more comfortable challenging routine behavior. I am passionate and proud of our contributions including the disruption that has led to changes in our firm culture.