Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, CPA.CITP, CGMA
2023 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
Chief Executive Officer
KET Solutions, LLC
How do you envision the accounting profession evolving in the foreseeable future for women?
In order to maintain competitiveness and relevance, the accounting profession must continue to evolve. There is no other option if we want continued success. The challenges facing the overall business environment related to economic uncertainty, geopolitical instability, demographic changes, and the ever-present disruption, require an all-hands-on deck approach.
Clients in organizations of all sizes, across industries around the world are relying on us. We can’t afford to leave anyone behind especially as women are increasingly the decision makers and influencers of accounting firm selection. How many deals are lost due to incomplete strategies, team composition, and lack of new ideas and approaches? Business as usual will no longer work—particularly if it includes teams without diversity of thought. Women are a critical element of the strategy and initiatives to enhance client service and drive revenue.
What advice would you give to women college students about preparing for a career in the accounting profession?
I would encourage them to Live AND not OR. In many instances, choices generally appear binary– this or that. Why not And? The accounting profession encompasses a body of learning and competencies that will enable them to pursue many paths. The accounting profession includes Public Accounting, Business/Industry, Not for Profit, Government, Education and Consulting. And this doesn’t include the many industry paths within each profession segment like public sector, financial services, healthcare, retail, etc. I would also encourage them to take care of their mental health and wellness, and seek mentors, coaches and sponsors but always remember that they are the architect of their own lives and careers.
How would you advise accounting firms on how they can better attract, retain, and advance more women?
Many firms have initiatives that focus on women including Employee Resource Groups and Advancement programs. Progress is being made but there is more to do. It’s time for even harder questions—What would it take for a Woman to be the Managing Partner or CEO? And even if the firm has had one, is that the recommended path? I have met many women who would not recommend the path that they themselves had to take to reach their career goal. An even more uncomfortable question is what would it take for a Black woman, Asian woman, Hispanic woman, LGBTQ+ woman to be the Managing Partner? Intersectionality is a key ingredient that can’t be overlooked. Further, while it is true that many women may not aspire to be the Managing Partner, the question is more about the culture, growth assignments, learning and development, coaching, etc. that enable a realistic aspiration to be in the top leadership role. It is usually clear in almost any organization who has been placed on the fast track to success. These leaders with accelerated, remove every barrier, lots of sponsors career paths are men in many instances but what if we treated everyone like Partners in the making? Let’s review who came in with the current and last Managing Partner—journey map the experience. What were the experiences of the women who came in at the same time? Where are they in the organization and why? One more question– for women in the firm who are not in client facing areas, is there a career track to leadership and a seat at the decision table? The constructive response and execution plan for these questions will drive talent management across the board and revenue.
What do you like to do when you have time away from work?
In my time away from work, I’m usually volunteering for many professional and personal causes. For instance, I support initiatives for youth, families, seniors, military, and health and wellness for Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. I’m also the 2022-2023 President for Beta Alpha Psi, serve on Board of Trustees for Loyola University Maryland, serve as the Chair of the Maryland Association of CPAs Foundation and am the Chair of the AICPA’s National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion.