Women’s Network first year survey looks at stats, programming and stretch goals as firm aims to continue advancing women to leadership roles
Clayton & McKervey, an international certified public accounting and business advisory firm located in metro Detroit, founded its Women’s Network little more than one year ago to reinforce and build upon its high percentage of women shareholders and principals. This approach may seem contrary to the approach of most firms, who create women’s leadership-focused groups because of a dearth of women in firm leadership roles.
Suzanne Tuson, CPA, a shareholder with the firm and one of the leaders of the Women’s Network, says Clayton & McKervey’s leadership focus is more about talent than gender. “While our leadership pool includes a high number of women shareholders and principals relative to the profession, this is the result of organic growth and an emphasis on talent, and not an attempt to achieve gender balance,” Tuson said. “That being said, we recognize the importance of continuing the momentum of the last several years in promoting women and have made a concerted effort to stay on track. The Women’s Network gives us a framework to do just that.”
Tuson said Clayton & McKervey, which is ranked among the 300 largest public accounting firms in the nation as noted by Inside Public Accounting, places as much attention on leadership development as the Big 4 and national and larger regional powerhouses.
“In public accounting and business advisory firms, where an emphasis is placed not only on client engagements but professional development and new business activities, the empowerment of individuals with technical skills, marketing savvy and emotional intelligence is critical to creating and sustaining a strong leadership bench, regardless of gender,” Tuson said. “We view the Women’s Network as an added tool in fostering leadership development as a whole.”
Tuson’s co-leader, manager Katie Faysal, CPA, explained the mission, goals and topics addressed by Clayton & McKervey’s Women’s Network. “Our mission is to empower the career advancement of women within the firm through structured programming and environment enhancement. This mission supports the firm’s vision of seeing talented women maximize their potential,” Faysal said.
Clayton & McKervey Women’s Network Goals:
- Increase access to role models
- Improve and increase marketing opportunities
- Provide education and support for career advancement
- Enhance the culture of the firm to ensure the successful retention and recruitment of women
The Women’s Network meets several times per year, with each meeting organized around one of three themes: success stories, marketing development and career advancement. The meeting goals are to provide a forum for women in the firm to gain access to others across departments; to promote organic growth of mentor/mentee relationships across departments; and to provide relevant information to help women advance themselves. The meeting formats include both large and small group discussion.All meetings place an emphasis on best practices, shared experiences, networking inside and outside of the accounting profession, and setting stretch goals.
In an August 2017 “Women’s Network Year in Review” survey, more than 65% of respondents cited the chief benefit of the network as “increased open dialogue and enhanced culture of the firm to support the recruiting, retention and support of women.” Beth Butchart, a manager at the firm, lauded the Women’s Network for bringing women together at all levels, across departments.
“I appreciate the opportunity to have authentic conversations, learn from one another and start building organic relationships to support each other and recognize the benefits of bringing our true selves to work,” she said.
For Rob Dutkiewicz, CPA, President of Clayton & McKervey, the Women’s Network was one of the first major internal firm initiatives he championed upon taking on the presidency in March 2016 following the death of firm co-founder Kevin McKervey.
“Planning for the Women’s Network was underway when I assumed the role as president.I knew how important it was to the firm to formally continue our leadership in encouraging women to maximize their potential, whether as a shareholder or in another position of increasing responsibility and authority,” Dutkiewicz said. “This group keeps us focused on retaining talented women – and men – while maintaining a positive trajectory for the future leadership of the firm.”
Clayton & McKervey is a firm of 70 people. Four of the firm’s nine shareholders are women, as is the Principal & Director of Assurance, Principal of Quality, Vice President of Operations and Director of Marketing. Four of the firm’s 10 managers are women.
About Clayton & McKervey
Clayton & McKervey is a full-service CPA firm helping middle-market entrepreneurial companies compete in the global marketplace.The firm is headquartered in metro Detroit and services clients throughout the world.To learn more, visit claytonmckervey.com.