For the second consecutive year, Councilor, Buchanan & Mitchell, P.C. (CBM), a full-service accounting and advisory firm based in Bethesda, MD, has been named one of the best accounting firms in equity leadership by the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA). This recognition continues to reinforce CBM as a top firm that offers professional opportunities for women throughout the accounting profession. Currently, 44% of CBM’s firm leadership is female, 65% of the staff is female and 30% of the team is represented by minorities.
Debbie May, executive vice president at CBM and director of the firm’s financial planning practice, was interviewed during the survey process to identify firms playing a top role in diversity and inclusion in the accounting industry. May also played a key role in merging the firm she co-founded, May & Barnhard, into CBM in 2017.
“Women who start their own firms,” says May, “can pick and choose their merger opportunities and often prefer firms such as CBM with well-developed ranks of women leaders.” In addition, she continues to serve as chief investment officer for May Barnhard investments (MBI), CBM’s financial advisory affiliate, which May also co-founded in 2013.
Early last year, CBM launched an internal group entitled D-PATH (“Diversity – Professional Accountants and Advisors Transforming the Horizon”) to empower women at the firm through networking, professional development and educational opportunities. The group, along with the firm’s president and managing partner, Peter B. Reilly, has since spoken on the importance of workforce diversity at such events as the 2019 AICPA ENGAGE conference and for the Greater Washington Society of CPAs’ Women’s Leadership and Nonprofit committees. Members of CBM D-PATH have also spoken at CBM all-staff meetings about creating greater opportunities for women and minority professionals.
The AFWA 2020 MOVE Project report quotes CBM board chair Pat Drolet, who also helped bring D-PATH to life, on the importance of work culture during the digital age and especially when so many professionals are operating in a virtual environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. “This work culture will be essential for attracting and keeping professionals for virtual financial leaderships assignments,” says Drolet.
The survey that identified the firms recognized by AFWA is conducted annually among accounting firms based on a methodology designed by research firm Wilson-Taylor Associates to investigate the factors proven essential to a woman’s career success.
Managing Partner Reilly adds: “CBM continues to play a leadership role in advocating for greater diversity in the accounting profession. Our professionals come from different backgrounds in their gender, racial, ethnic and sexual orientation characteristics, and this diversity is a source of our strength and success as a firm.”
To read the full 2020 Accounting MOVE report, click here.