• Register
Return to: Home > Comments > Good parents make good leaders

Good parents make good leaders

I have read many reports and best practice papers by firms and other organisations within the profession and followed webcasts and public debates about women in leadership and accounting. Most of these were published or organised to mark International Woman's Day, celebrated on 8 March each year, the day often used to highlight some of the key issues for women looking to take on leadership roles.

I believe such activates are key for future change and despite its slow pace - let's remember only one of the top 10 global accounting networks is run by a woman - the profession is aware change needs to happen and that it has a role to play in improving diversity in the business and finance community.

Despite the good work being done things are not that straightforward, and many are still reluctant to suggest solutions and are, to some extent, baffled about how to limit the effects of parenthood on women's careers and their leadership potential. The International Accounting Bulletin Women in Accounting survey carried out earlier this month showed that a career break and a need for more flexible hours are the two biggest barriers preventing women climbing to the top of the corporate ladder.

And let's face it, women at a senior level who are parents are still often perceived, not just by their mangers but by their colleagues too, as less hard working and dedicated to the job because of their flexible hours and not being so chained to the desk.
And just as I was trawling through the material looking for ideas and thoughts on how to change our perception of a working parent, I came across a TED Talk by US academic and public policy expert Anne-Marie Slaughter.

Slaughter argues that real gender equality not only comes from the number of male and female leaders we have in the world, but also by putting an end to valuing women on male terms, which means creating a much wider range of accepted choices for men and women. She says this can only be achieved by changing workplaces, policies and culture.

In the workplace, Slaughter says, this means valuing family just as much as work and understanding that they reinforce each other. She argues that workers who are also care-givers and parents develop skills such as patience, empathy, creativity, resilience and adaptability, which are all key skills in a working environment and ever more important in today's horizontal global economy.

At a policy level Slaughter argues that breadwinning and care-giving are equally important for humanity and the two should not translate into male and female responsibilities, but should be considered as family responsibilities. She says some of the most progressive economies such as Norway and Sweden with the best quality of living ranking have worked out that by valuing services such as universal childcare and subsidised childcare they are seeing economic productivity increase and improved living standards.

As for the cultural change Slaughter argues men need to be re-socialised. At the moment women are well placed to make the choice between parenthood and career while men are still socialised to believe their success is measured by the power they achieve in a work environment and by how they outperform other men. And a man deciding to become a care-giver is often judged harshly by other men and many find it almost impossible to return to work after such a decision, she argues, adding that re-socialising men on their evolving role is key.

Perhaps you may not fully agree with Slaughter, but I must say that, amid the pages and pages of corporate material and discussion, her words in a 15-minute TED speech made a great deal of sense, and perhaps as professional services firms try proactively to change their workplace, they might need to develop better policies, acting for the greater good of all our futures and the future of the generations to come.


ana.gyorkos@timetric.com

Top Content

    The UK: uncertain waves rule Britannia

    he UK’s accountancy profession is currently in a period of much uncertainty. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has released its review into the listed audit market which could cause the biggest shake-up the profession has seen in years, the Kingman Review has described the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) as not being fit for purpose and called for it to be replaced. All the while the country remains in a deadlock on Brexit negotiations.

    read more

    Views from the Eurozone

    With Brexit looming, populist governments gaining footholds in a number of countries and movements such as the Yellow Jacket protests in France, 2018 was anything but a quite year for the eurozone. Here leaders report to the IAB on their markets.

    read more

    Eastern promise and how to find it

    With China rising as a global power, Jonathan Minter spoke with ShineWing’s Zhang Ke and Marco Carlei at the World Congress of Accountants 2018 in Sydney, to discuss the cultural challenges that occur when Chinese networks look beyond their border, and the dividends available for those who overcome them.

    read more

    Spain: looking to widen demand

    As Spanish accounting professionals prepare for new audit regulations, the Paul Golden asks what they need to do individually and at firm level to maintain and increase demand for their services.

    read more
Privacy Policy

We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.