Each year, Accounting Today, the accounting industry’s leading publication, recognizes the 100 Best Firms to Work For in the U.S. — and then picks the 10 Best Firms for Women from among those based on the responses of their female staff to a comprehensive employee survey. PrimeGlobal member firm E. Cohen was listed as the #1 Best Firm for Women in the U.S.

What makes E. Cohen a Best Firm for Women?

As a PrimeGlobal member firm, we encourage women of our firm to participate in the women’s leadership group where they can meet and network with other valuable contacts to gain ideas and grow in their profession. We are very fortunate to have so many women leaders in our firm that are great mentors that can offer support and advice to other up-and-coming female leaders of the firm. We have received valuable feedback from this group to help us improve as a firm. Additionally, as a firm, we encourage a work-life balance to all our employees. We support them through difficult times, and we make sure all employees feel equally respected.

Do you have any specific strategies for recruiting women? For retaining them?

We make sure we put benefits that are important for women first — work from home arrangements when needed, flexible schedules, retirement program, professional development opportunities, paid parental leave for both parents, and mentorship programs to support professional advancement. Women at our firm are not only included in all our initiatives, they lead those initiatives most of the time.

What is the typical experience for a woman advancing within your firm? What do you do to promote women and attain more of a gender balance in leadership?

Our team of principals consists of 50 percent male and 50 percent female. We believe this balance is well represented while serving as an inspiration to others in the firm. With this said, we do not single out or make exceptions based on gender. All employees, whether male or female, are publicly recognized when achieving a milestone or when providing great services to our clients.

We encourage all employees to grow and achieve their professional goals without having to sacrifice the important things in life. Everyone at our firm is promoted based on professional achievements and we give all the flexibility and support to manage their personal lives while achieving their professional goals.Everyone in the firm has a voice to share ideas, opportunities and successes. We take the time to listen carefully and discuss initiatives or concerns with colleagues. We also make sure everyone is heard the first time they speak. Support has been key to development and advancement at E. Cohen.

What does the accounting profession need to do to retain and advance more women?

Gender equality can be achieved as soon as the company gets rid of unknown biases. Many times, opportunities get taken away because we assume what people want, rather than giving people the opportunity they deserve or the opportunity to explore their own capabilities and limits.

What do you see for the future of women in accounting?

The future of women in accounting is bright and promising as the industry shifts to more automation. This is giving females the opportunity to move away from clerical tasks and demonstrate their many capabilities and skills to manage and serve as leaders and mentors to others. Additionally, with technology advances, accounting firms are becoming more and more flexible with remote work arrangements to allow women the opportunity to take care of their families, while also pursuing a career.

What challenges have you encountered in creating a positive work culture for women?

Public accounting appears to be a tough industry to recruit women. Many of our applicants had been predominantly male. We are not certain if this is because of the perception of a work-life balance in public accounting, or if it is something else. We have made great efforts to promote the firm’s work-life balance and training and development to encourage more women to apply for positions in the firm, and this seems to have helped.

How would you advise other firms seeking to become a Best Firm for Women?

Make sure leadership understands the importance of gender equality. This is the key to becoming a great workplace for women. When a workplace gets to understand the importance of gender equality, the path to a positive culture for women gets more defined, clearer and easier for everyone to follow.

What’s on the horizon for your firm in terms of keeping up its status as a Best Firm for Women?

As we grow to become the “Next Big Firm,” it is our plan to implement more diversity and inclusion initiatives to secure our success and long life of our firm. Implementing more D&I initiatives will allow for competitive advantage, better decision-making, higher employee engagement, and better company reputation. Maintaining our “Best Firm for Women” status will support our D&I efforts.

Any final thoughts on the status of women in the profession?

Long gone are the days of few women leaders in the workplace. Everyone in the firm is equal and treated as such. As an industry and moving forward, it is important that all accounting firms give women access to great mentors (male or female) who will guide them through their career. If we can shift the gender perception, we will continue to see more and more women in leadership roles.

Meet the 2019 Best Firms for Women in Accounting Today.

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E. Cohen & Company, CPAs

E. Cohen and Company, CPAs is a full-service CPA firm based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, providing Tax Compliance & Consulting, Audit & Assurance, Business Advisory Services, and Business Technology Services. Our industries include: Professional Services, Government Contracting, Not-For-Profit, Construction & Real Estate, Manufacturing & Distribution, Dealerships, Professional Athletes & Sports Executives and Individuals. We believe our growth is reflective of our commitment to our Clients as well as our employees. Not only do we live in the area where our Clients do, we volunteer, too. We want to make a difference in the lives of our Clients and our Community.

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