Women have historically been underrepresented at the top levels of the accounting industry, something Moss Adams LLP has been working to change through Forum W—the firm’s effort to attract, develop, retain, and advance talented women. In 2013, Forum W introduced a workshop that has gained tremendous momentum, called “Getting Real: Straight Talk on Building Your Career and Investing in Your Future.”
Getting Real addresses a phenomenon Moss Adams calls “future tripping.” The firm discovered that three to six years into their accounting careers, many of their female employees voice concerns about how their personal and professional lives might unfold: Will I be able to balance a family and working at the firm? I don’t know how to sell; should I quit now? Since there aren’t as many women partners as men, what’s the likelihood I’ll become one? These concerns often prompted premature professional decisions, which stalled promising careers and caused talented women to slip from the firm’s pipeline.
Facilitated by the firm’s women partners, Getting Real provides an opportunity for more exposure to role models—those who’ve already achieved success in the firm—who can candidly share their experiences, provide insight, and demonstrate different models of success. The workshop covers topics such as career development strategies, work-life integration, and stretch assignments, and provides a panel discussion that participants find extremely valuable.
To date, Moss Adams has conducted the Getting Real workshop in almost every one of its operating regions, and it’s now developing a follow-up workshop that will take an even deeper dive into future tripping and work-life integration.
“We have outstanding buy-in from leadership for these programs, and are seeing the needle move in a positive way,” says Stacy Stelzriede, a partner in Moss Adam’s Los Angeles office and member of the firmwide Forum W advisory board. “Across all of our locations, women now make up nearly 25 percent of our partners, which is far above the national average of 19 percent, but still not enough when 50 percent of our new hires are women.”