Carla McCall, CPA, CGMA
2023 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
How do you envision the accounting profession evolving in the foreseeable future for women?
The accounting profession is evolving significantly for everyone. Consider the infusion of technology, including AI and RPA, and how it’s changing the way we work. There are many more choices today for those building their career, and one’s path does not need to be linear nor focused in one area. Improvements have also been made thanks to those who are challenging unconscious bias and making sure we create inclusive workplaces. Hybrid work and work from anywhere are now the norm. So integrating work and life is easier than in the past or even pre-pandemic. Beyond this, we are beginning to shift from measures of inputs, or hours, to outputs, or performance. And those of us leading the charge in that area will thrive.
At the center of this are more women taking on leadership roles. And the more we talk about the value of women and diversity in general in the boardroom the better. Women in leadership roles need to dedicate time to uplifting others so that one day we will no longer need these awards.
What advice would you give to women college students about preparing for a career in the accounting profession?
This is a challenging question to answer because why would my advice to a female college student be different than it would be to a male? Are we not starting on the same playing field out of college—today in 2023? If we are not, companies need to look at themselves.
The competencies we look for are not gender specific. Still, this question perpetuates the idea that there is a difference. We need to stop asking this question. We want people who have intellectual curiosity, have strong EQ, and can set their own career goals and advocate for themselves. We look for people with drive who are entrepreneurial and who understand our incredible value in preserving the public’s trust.
How would you advise accounting firms on how they can better attract, retain, and advance more women?
Culture. All firms need to have a culture of inclusion while offering employee training on unconscious bias. They need female leaders, especially at the partner level, who are strong role models and who actively bring up other women and challenge the old firm norms. They need strong firm-wide policies that offer flexibility for all employees, with value placed on performance. Strong leadership calls out bias or unfairness when they see it. Perhaps most importantly, too, is having processes in place to facilitate honest and candid feedback as to why a company is not attracting or retaining women. Only then can you make the real change you need.
What is your favorite professional mobile app, and why?
LinkedIn. I am very active on LinkedIn, and I find it a great app to help professionals stay connected with the industry and with colleagues across the globe. You can share thought leadership, articles, and personal accomplishments. You can also join affinity groups with people who have common interests.
What do you like to do when you have time away from work?
I enjoy traveling with my family. This is my all-time favorite activity. But on a day-to-day basis, I have a slight Peloton addiction.
What are your favorite podcasts?
I’m not a podcast follower. I tend to prefer reading.