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Advancing Women in Leadership: TBG’s Commitment to fixing the “Broken Rung”

January 15th, 2024

In many professional service firms, the progression of women into leadership roles often reaches a plateau at the managerial level. In fact, for every 100 men that are promoted to management roles, only 86 women are promoted, according to a recent study. This maintains and further imbalances the number of men and women in senior positions, as men continue to outnumber women at each level of the leadership ladder. This effect, known as the “broken rung,” hinders women from realizing their full potential as professional leaders.

The accounting industry is not an exception to this inequity. While women have consistently accounted for 50% of CPAs in the industry, only 27% of partners nationwide are women. This raises a couple questions— why aren’t there more female partners? And what can be done to further advance women as leaders in the accounting industry?

As The Great Resignation continues to challenge businesses to create a more positive, inclusive, and employee-friendly workplace for all, firms must consider how they can not only recruit and retain women in the workplace but advance them as well.

Fighting the Statistic: Introducing the Moore Leadhership1 Program

While TBG has an above average number of women in leadership roles and female Partners, we continuously strive to improve.To help combat the inequities that women face in being promoted to the manager level and beyond, Moore North America, a group of independent firms of which TBG is a part, initiated its first Leadhership1 Program to promote the retention and advancement of women in leadership positions. As part of Moore’s 2023 Social Ambition goals, this program was created to elevate, educate, and support female leaders to reach their maximum potential. Founded and led by Dr. Susan Davis-Ali, the Leadhership1 curriculum was crafted to address the “broken rung” phenomenon backed by research, data, and best practices.

This program aligns seamlessly with Bonadio’s DE&I initiatives, which are aimed at creating a truly inclusive work environment where all our People are able to achieve their greatest potential. Advancing women’s leadership opportunities is a key priority at TBG, so we were delighted to nominate our People to participate in Moore’s Leadhership1 Program.

TBG leadership nominated Assurance Managers Kelsey Dempsey and Rachel Kavney for the inaugural program, which took place online from June to December, requiring Kelsey and Rachel to spend 39 hours each with 25 other women from Moore North America firms learning strategies to navigate the obstacles women face in advancing past the “broken rung,” assessing their leadership styles and strengths, and being mentored by experts both from within and outside of the firm.

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Now that Kelsey and Rachel have completed the curriculum and graduated from the program (with Honors, by the way!), we’re sharing their empowering experiences and key takeaways.

Taking Risks and Setting Stretch Goals

Kelsey DempseyRochester, NY

Throughout the six-month program, Kelsey most enjoyed the monthly tasks she was given, such as working on her personal brand through word list exercises, career planning with her TBG PROMISE Team leader, and a sponsorship challenge with firm leadership. Kelsey appreciated and took advantage of these expanded opportunities to connect with others at TBG and in the industry on a deeper level. Given that networking increases women’s sense of belonging and decreases feelings of isolation, these monthly challenges created a stronger network for Kelsey. “This program helped me put my nerves and fears aside when reaching out to and connecting with others in a professional setting,” shared Kelsey.

With new tools and more confidence under her belt, Kelsey recommends for those who are interested in growing their leadership skills to take advantage of every opportunity. She also advocates for taking risks and setting a stretch goal. “It will make you a stronger person and leader!” she added. Putting these goals on paper can significantly help women envision their career path, leading to increased engagement, retention, and readiness for advancement. We are proud of Kelsey for increasing her own goal clarity, and we look forward to supporting her as she achieves those goals!

When You Hit a Roadblock, Confidently Carve a Way Around It

Rachel Kavney – Central NY

Upon completing the Leadhership1 Program, Rachel’s biggest takeaways were all about meeting challenges with confidence. While women can’t control the barriers that exist around them in the workplace, they can control how they approach such obstacles. She now has the tools and strategies to reflect on what’s stopping her from progressing toward her goals and meeting those roadblocks head on. “One of the tools I learned from this program is to act with confidence even if you are not feeling completely confident,” shared Rachel. Giving women the tools for success plays a significant role in increasing their confidence, interest, and readiness in advancement opportunities. We’re pleased that we could offer Rachel this opportunity to build her confidence!

“To me, leadership is all about reminding your team that they’re not alone and that you’ll work alongside them,” she added. Rachel saw this kind of leadership put into action at the Leadhership1 Program graduation ceremony, where our CEO and Managing Partner, Bruce Zicari, presented as the keynote speaker. One of Rachel’s role models at the firm, TBG Partner Kristen Clark, was also in attendance to cheer her on. “Having the support of Bruce, Kristen, and so many other leaders I admire was the highlight of my Leadhership1 experience!”

Advancing Women at Bonadio

At TBG, we aim to be an exception to the “broken rung” statistic, as we recognize the importance of making the workplace more equitable for women, especially through advancing women to leadership roles. We’re proud of our commitment to supporting female leaders but also know that there is no finish line when it comes to providing opportunities for women to continually advance and grow.

To learn more about how we continuously strive to provide learning and development opportunities for our People, click here. And if you’re interested in finding out what a career at TBG could look like for you, reach out today or check out the current openings here. 

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