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The 39th edition of ‘Salon Conversations for Accountants’ was dedicated to International Women’s Day on March 8. What do ‘tropical years’ with young children do for women’s ambitions?
The NBA organized a theme week from March 7 to 11 women’s leadership† During peak season talks, Hosts Hakan Koçak and Charlie Groen discussed this topic with guests Stephanie Hottenhuis (CEO KPMG Netherlands), Sandra Lutchman (InclusionFirst, Theme Week Chair) and Esther van Huizen (Head of HLB Blömer).
NBA Director Monika Bankert provided the philosophical opening and briefly reviewed the history of mankind. She quoted Simone de Beauvoir: “You are not born a woman, you are made a woman (in a world of men).” Where men dominate mainly by being strong, brave and motivated by competition. But in this changing world, female leadership can work better.
Stephanie Hottenhuis today underlined that KPMG’s departure from Russia was hotly discussed. “There were also many arguments against it; the comrades there are also victims of the situation. But the sense of historical awareness prevailed.” According to her, withdrawing from the big four is an important statement. “Now is the time to choose a side of the story that is the ‘right side’, it’s too important.”
In the discussion about female leadership, among other things, the leaky pipe† the underrepresentation of women in senior positions. Stephanie was “glad we don’t have to convince each other of the importance of diversity at the top of organizations.”
It’s important to take a close look at underlying processes, salary discussions, team compositions and the like. The impartial around diversity starts with those processes and has only started to gain momentum. Fortunately, the numbers have now changed, the influx is much more balanced. But later in the organization it demands attention again.
Esther van Huizen also saw this. Up to a certain age and job level, men and women are closely matched, but after that the ratio changes and the leaky pipe† Many women then leave. Informal structures are also important. “What you also want to avoid is the organization braggart getting what he wants.”
According to Sandra Lutchman, companies in this sector should request staff, not the other way around. “People choose where they want to work, they also select the culture of a company.” Two years before women leave an organization, they have already made that decision, according to Sandra. Good leadership allows you to develop talent. Therefore, life options should be discussed with young professionals from the beginning. “Don’t think for them, let them think about what they need.”
We work for people’s organizations, Stephanie emphasized. “No one should determine for you what happiness is, or if you want to work for four days. Make it negotiable, make it clear.” You should also talk to the leaders about this, ask them to start the conversation from the beginning.
The most important thing in a company is sponsorshipSandra said. “Ambassadors are needed in a company who say ‘this is going to be released, I was thinking of you’. People who give you confidence, who make other people stronger.”
Accounting organizations should take more into account the years when people have children, Esther believed. “Once the title of accountant is there, the children will come.” As an organization, they need to make this easier, ensure that people have to work fewer hours during that period, and better respect the period of maternity leave. And also consider in advance how women can return to the organization. “That needs more thought.”
Stephanie, herself the daughter of two hard-working professionals, was once offered by her manager to come back as team leader after her pregnancy. She doubted it. But her mother’s advice was clear: “It’s up to you, but if you say no, I don’t want to hear you say your boss is less competent than you after this.”
Issue 40: War in Ukraine
On Tuesday, March 15, hosts Hakan Koçak and Aleks Kayhan will discuss the war in Ukraine with their guests. This includes a historical reflection by Arnout van Kempen on the role of the accountant during the war. The new NBA Alert 45, which deals with sanctioning legislation for accountants, will also be discussed. General manager Berry Wammes is in attendance from the NBA.
The role of the offices is discussed with Bart Jonker, director of Grant Thornton Holland. What is discussed in boardroomWhat can managers mean to their own people and what impact does the situation have on internal processes?
It kicks off in the Clubhouse as usual at 8:00 pm More information on Busy Season Talks can be found on LinkedIn or in the NBA’s BST community.