IRE : The women's place as an auditor
IRE has invited some female auditors to share their views on their profession and their position.
Do women contribute to the audit profession with different skills?
Léna Sérafin (PWC): In my opinion, it depends more on
the person than on the person’s gender.
Caroline Delhez (Grant Thornton): A recent study by Grant Thornton shows that women only occupy 22% of senior management roles (EU). I get the feeling that women don’t dare to ask for as much as men do. Although we all have identical communication skills, women communicate differently. Companies must continue to employ more women in senior positions, this produces many positive impacts.
Aurélie Frost (EY): A man is more likely to motivate his
teams with goals and to be a better influencer while
a woman is more likely to be reserved. Men are more
calculating and rely more on their network.
Marion Rory (Deloitte): A woman is more likely to take care of her team members, to reassure them and to be more empathetic. Is that because of her gender or her personality? It's hard to say.
Laurence Vivarié (KPMG): If we create a female network, we’re quickly accused of being feminists and we send out a negative message. I think we should move towards equality. Human beings contribute something to a company, whatever their gender.
LS: Networks are important, both for men and for women. The higher up in a company, the more men there are - but when first hired, the ratio is 50/50. You are required to have contacts and maintain a network. Experience shows that it’s different with men. For a woman, it’s a challenge to combine a career and being a mother. It must all be possible! For example, my husband took parental leave so I could get my degree.
Have you ever encountered any negativity because you're a woman?
LS: I experienced gender-related problems within the world of banking. Not anymore.
LV: I’ve been to meetings with a male colleague and
people have thought that, as a man, he was in charge - but that’s rare.
MR: When I was pregnant, I wondered how I would be
welcomed when I returned of maternity leave but
everything went well.
Do you think quotas are necessary?
LS: There is inevitably a cultural influence when it comes to the position of women at home and in a company. I’m in favour of promotions through merit, not because of a quota - but that doesn’t stop me from seeking out women who are higher up and who can act as role models for me.
That’s an important and useful network. I am against
affirmative action. Women must find their place through
their performance. Quotas do not necessarily serve the
status of women.
Jessica Ott (BDO): I’m against positive discrimination.
A woman’s position must be based on her performance.
I don’t think that necessarily helps women.
LV: I agree with Jessica’s approach.
There are no differences between men and women: reward schemes are identical. Tasks and chores are divided up within family units. I don’t feel discriminated against.
AF: When I started in 2004, there were fewer female senior managers. I think that there’s an increasing number of women higher up within audit firms these days. The goal is to continue climbing up the ladder.
CD: When I got my degree in 2011, I received plenty of job offers. But I wanted to start a family and I had to reconcile the two. When I came back from maternity leave, everything went really well. I was even offered a
promotion. Upon my return, I still knew how to perform
JO: It’s a question of making room for a private life
within the professional world. I sometimes leave earlier,
but I work at home in the evenings.
A person’s own attitude can influence others.
CD: We have the chance to work in a profession that offers a lot of flexibility, but we also know how to be flexible when things get busier. It must work in both directions.