The California Board of Accountancy recently implemented several changes aimed at supporting military personnel and their families. One of the greatest improvements allows California CPAs who are called to active duty to apply for a waiver of their renewal fees and continuing education requirements. Can you imagine learning you had to do a second tour in Iraq and then had to worry about meeting your ethics and fraud requirements before you were deployed? Terrible.
Anywho, hooray and hoorah! Leslie J. LaManna, the current CBA president, was right in stating, “I believe those licensees who are called upon to protect our country should be able to focus on the task at hand and not be concerned with their CE requirements.” I applaud what the CBA has done and I encourage all other state boards of accountancy to follow suit if they don’t have such support in place.
I also invite those who regulate CE requirements to not stop there. The substance of this exception, IMHO, should also apply to female CPAs who are called upon to create the next generation of life, aka go on maternity leave. You can call me crazy or call me a feminist and both might be true. But before you tune me out, read on.
I am not proposing that expectant mothers should be given a complete waiver; rather, I feel they should be allowed a reduction of CE on a prorated amount of at least three months. That is only 10 CE hours, assuming a jurisdiction requires 40 hours annually, and they could still be subjected to all the “important” requirements, like ethics.
Because here is the reality in absence of such support: When a female CPA prepares for maternity leave, she has to identify, train, and delegate all of her work over to someone else. While she is on leave, she is unable to work. There are many circumstances where attending a firm sponsored training (read: CE) may have her appear to be working, which would forfeit her disability benefits. (read: money). So no, she can’t learn about the latest regulatory changes while the baby is napping.
Then when she returns to work, she has to deal with the emotional baggage of leaving her baby at home and sometimes the actual baggage of a breast pump and requisite pumping breaks. Scoff at this remark all you want but for all those who haven't had a lactating friend, pumping is a serious schedule. Per the Mayo Clinic, a woman who is working full-time should pump
everyfor 15 minutes every few hours. Seriously, who takes three 15 minute breaks anymore?
As if managing the body and baby stuff, this new mommy/CPA wasn’t enough, she will also need to get back on top of her professional game. For all y’all who struggle to catch up from one week of vacation, imagine the challenge of getting back into the swing of things after three months.
It is common knowledge there aren’t as many female partners running accounting firms as there are men. For those of you who have been living under a rock and/or like data to support claims, check out the stats on Catalyst.org. While there are nearly as many women as there are men across the span of entire organizations, the actual number of female partners is a paltry 21%. For you industry folks out there, the data shows there are even fewer female CFOs running Fortune 500 companies; in 2012, it was a measly 11.3% to be exact.
Like with those called to active duty, I believe those licensees who are called upon to give birth to the next generation should be able to focus on the task at hand and not be concerned with their CE requirements. Small measures, like reduced CPE for women on maternity leave, are warranted if we truly want to increase the number of female CPAs at the highest levels of leadership. Moreover, the ultimate goal of boards of accountancy is to protect consumers. I'd rather have a well-rested mommy auditing my books than one who stayed up eight hours clicking on some random pop-ups to meet her required 40 hours.