More women, better business outcomes

Executive women leaders in accounting aren’t as common as they should be. But together, we can change that.

Sometimes, what’s smart in business can also be what’s right – like supporting greater representation for women in senior positions. Canadian corporations with more equitable leadership are more competitive.


Everyone benefits from inclusive leadership, not just women. There’s a strong business case for it, too: what firm doesn’t want higher returns, increased innovation, improved governance and a more stable board?

It’s important to consider what’s lost by neglecting women as key players in the talent pipeline as well: critical skills, contacts, internal knowledge, competitive advantage against other firms, and top-notch professional expertise.

“We don’t need more studies telling us why more women [in executive roles] is a good idea,” says Lisa Lisson, the first woman president of FedEx Canada and a board member for the SickKids Foundation. “It’s good business. We need an attitudinal shift.”

The accounting profession is no exception, which is why CPA Canada actively supports the retention, promotion and advancement of women in leadership, offering tools to help organizations combat unintended bias and provide equal career development opportunities for all.


When pitching a women’s initiative at work, we recommend a best practices approach, like any other leadership or management challenge. Women’s advancement as CPAs is truly about investing in the future of your firm and the future of the profession as a whole.

What you propose at work should be a compelling, evidence-based argument for change that addresses any gaps in demographics, promotion trends and more across profession-wide data. It is vital to link the initiative’s goals with your firm’s mission, vision and strategic plan, such as succession planning and long-term sustainability.

The AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee is a worthwhile place to turn for advice, networking and support. Yasmin El-Ramly, who heads the committee, recommends these additional steps to move the needle at work:

  • Create an effective governance structure: multi-generational women and men, as well as supportive members of management, should spearhead the initiative together

  • Develop a definition of success: customize opportunities unique to your organization, like mentorship and sponsorship programs, with room to improve and adjust as needed 

  • Implement strategic solutions: conduct ongoing diagnostics to identify barriers, e.g. flexible work arrangements, mentorship programs, guidelines for promotio 

  • Track your progress: quarterly updates, have people leading the initiative be an assigned champion of certain goals to maintain progress

  • Celebrate the wins: highlight progress in client meetings and recruitment efforts; use results to raise visibility for women role models inside and outside the firm

Learn more about the advancement of women in the profession and what you can do to make a difference at the Women’s Global Leadership Summit. It is jointly presented by AICPA and CPA Canada, taking from November 14-16, 2018 in New York City.

The focus of this conference is on enhancing the skills and potential of women leaders in the business, financial and accounting communities. As a CPA member, you qualify for special pricing with the promo code CPACANADA at registration.