In the next few months, 5 new colleagues will start at DONE!Financials — and 4 of them are women. Is that unusual for a financial advisory firm? Yes and No. Women have played an important role in the tax and accounting profession for decades. According to Statista (June, 2020), the majority of those working in the German finance, accounting and tax industry are women. It’s 62.3 percent.
That actually sounds pretty good. However, this figure belies the fact that gender equality in finance still lags behind other fields, such as medicine, law or science. That’s because the C-suite in financial firms is predominantly male. For example, only about 21 percent of partner positions at the Big Four firms are held by women. Many women don’t make the leap from compliance work to proactive, strategic leadership roles.
NO ATTRACTIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR CAREER WOMEN
A look at history makes it clear why finance is not the most innovative industry in terms of equality: during World War II, from 1939 to 1945, women began entering the accounting profession in significant numbers. The reason for that was not because companies saw them as qualified, but because men were going off to war and there was the need to replace them. And most of these women were only employed as secretaries at that time.
The desire to start a family led many women to end their careers early on. The shift to more work-life balance in the ’60s and ’70s encouraged more women to enter and work for the financial industry. And work-life balance is still a crucial issue today — especially for female top talents. A survey of almost 1,200 students at the Universities of Mannheim, Frankfurt and the University of St. Gallen a few years ago showed that the majority of the female students surveyed do not see the financial sector as being family-friendly. For them, children and career don’t fit in that business. For this reason, these surveyed female students have decided against a career in the financial sector. As a result, important pioneers and mentors for other women in accounting have been lost.
THE MINDSET OF THE INDUSTRY HAS TO CHANGE
It is time for the financial industry to change and break through the male domain. This requires initiatives and companies that promote diversity in the workplace and invest in the next female generation of future leaders. “Right from the start, I attached great importance to a diverse team because women have skills that we men often don’t, such as an obsession with details. The property is of great value especially in accounting”, says Magnus Bilke, founder and CEO of DONE!Financials. “Studies have shown for years that diversity in a team leads to more creativity and innovation. Since we mainly work for startups that are constantly and quickly developing, we need this team dynamic and lots of out-of-the-box ideas.”
DONE!Financials offers its employees a lot of flexibility with its New Work culture and provides for a creative and agile work environment with flat hierarchies and work-life balance. The culture is based on respect, appreciation, diversity, trust, and mutual support. In such a working atmosphere, women feel comfortable and stay even when they become mothers. In addition, DONE!Financials creates the right framework conditions for such situations with remote and flexible work, so that family and profession can be reconciled and the career does not have to be broken off. It is only through such initiatives and pioneers that the proportion of women in this profession not only remains high, but also ensures gender equality in any position in accounting and finance departments.