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A simple act of recognition can spark real confidence

Recognising a woman’s achievements can spark a real change in confidence. How will you acknowledge..
CULTURE 4 mins 30 Mar 2022 by Brooke Kayira
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Each year, I have the privilege of engaging in, and sharing, the stories of hundreds of women in the accounting industry, through the Top 50 Women in Accounting awards. For me, it has been, and continues to be, one of the most impactful initiatives I work on.

Over the past 5 years, we’ve seen over 1,500 women from across the globe nominated for the awards - each with their own unique stories, successes, struggles, passions and hopes. And what’s one of the most consistent themes that comes up every year? Confidence.

Accounting and bookkeeping professionals are at the frontline of ensuring their clients make sense of the numbers that underpin their business performance, supporting their clients to ensure they have confidence in the path ahead. It never ceases to amaze me though, how many of these professional women we see each year struggle to have the confidence required to share their story, or celebrate their successes.

Leading communities filled with approximately 20,000 bookkeepers, Melanie Power is no stranger to walking alongside women lacking in confidence.

“I have found that a common theme is low self-worth and confidence in the bookkeeping profession. This flows through into the business with the bookkeeper not pricing for profit.

There is a bias in the market that “bookkeeping” is low value, unskilled work, and it's not. We have unwittingly created this perception, in the same way as we expect a discount on a new car. It’s up to us to retrain how people view, treat and value us.”

We first launched the 'Women in Accounting' initiative on International Women's Day in 2018, as a way to honor and recognize women who are driving change and creating opportunities for the next generation within the Accounting and Bookkeeping industry. We’ve taken great pride in creating a space for women to reflect on their own journey, and celebrate the women who’ve inspired and impacted them along the way. Sometimes, even that simple acknowledgement can make all the difference.

Jo Doye, Founder of Alluvia Financial and 2019 Top 50 alumni, stated, "Being included in the Top 50 Women in Accounting gave me the confidence that what I was doing was making a difference."

When it comes to building confidence, sometimes all it takes is the simple act of nominating a peer to instill confidence and make a real difference. Rebecca Milhalic, Director of businessDEPOT, has been very open about her journey to confidence, mentioning that “...the idea that I had been nominated by a peer was just astounding, but to have been accepted and named in the Top 50 blew me away. That was all about me. I’d achieved that. And there it was - my self confidence. Not fully restored, but absolutely on its way. I don't know that I would be doing what I am today if that had not happened.”

One of the things I am most proud of, is the beautiful evolution of our Top 50 alumni and community going on to join our judging panel in later years. In fact, this year, 8 out of our 9 judges have been named in prior year Top 50 lists. They’ve been through the process themselves, and deeply understand the challenges, limitations, barriers, and inequality that women face in our industry, and the role we all must play if we want to make real change for generations to come.

Heather Townsend, award winning author, is a wonderful example of this. “Every time I have made it onto the Top 50 Women in Accounting list, it’s helped me and helped my career. If we can shine a light and make it okay for women to say ‘I am good at this’, then part of my work is done here with this initiative.”

“There’s a generation of women like me who have grown up being taught not to talk about where they're strong, not to talk about our accomplishments. For me, Women in Accounting is a chance to readdress that balance.”

There are few that have made more of an impact on our Top 50 lists than Nayo Carter-Gray. Nayo, CEO at 1st Step Accounting, has been part of our Top 50 for the past two years, and is a passionate community builder and champion of diversity when it comes to representation.

“I am a proud black woman who is also an accountant, and I’ve noticed in our industry people of color are underrepresented. So it brings me great pleasure and joy to make sure that our voices are heard, our faces are seen and our expertise is acknowledged.”

This year, we're focusing on celebrating the unique and diverse stories of women in our industry, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about building confidence. And my hope is that as we encourage the women around us to step up, with boldness and confidence, we’re empowering the next generation of women to do the same.
Confidence for a woman is the byproduct of her knowing her own worth and leaning into being unapologetically and authentically who she is. Breaking the bias starts and ends with us stepping into our own power.” - Melanie Power

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Brooke Kayira

Global Community and Referrals Manager  Ignition

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Published 30 Mar 2022 Last updated 01 Nov 2022