Leadership in accounting firms, executive committees, and accounting organizations has grown increasingly diverse. Particularly, the last decade has seen a number of influential women take on high-profile leadership positions in the field of accounting. These women have used their influence and power to advocate for diversity in the profession and remove barriers to inclusion.
In 2016, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) chose its first African-American Chairman of the Directors, Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, CPA, CGMA. With her leadership experience at NASA, Motorola, and Oracle – as well as her active involvement in the AICPA – Ellison-Taylor was a natural choice for the position.
Throughout her career, she has been a driving force for organizations embracing Cloud computing and Big Data strategy. Ellison-Taylor has often described her desire to “pay forward” her success and create opportunities for underserved populations.
Almost exactly 100 years after the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales admitted its first female fellow, the organization chose its first female president, Fiona Wilkinson BA, BFP, FCA, for 2019-2020. During her time as president, Wilkinson worked to advance diversity in accountancy and operated with the belief that auditing and accounting standards are at the core of building a world of sustainable economies and are essential to raise standards of living and prosperity.
As a president, Wilkinson will likely be remembered as an ambassador for diversity and inclusion in the profession. Her efforts to honor historic trailblazers in accountancy demonstrated the profession’s commitment to diversity and made a distinct impact.
Terri S. Polley
Teresa Polley, a member of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) since 1987, was elected president of the organization 2008 and CEO in 2010. The FAF provides independent oversight as an administration for the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).
During her 11 years of FAF leadership, she implemented improved review processes, expanded the organization’s political influence, and improved the organization with a number of other notable initiatives. Of the 38 years in the FAF’s history, Polley was the first person to hold the CEO title and her tenure as CEO and president has defined the organization’s modern presence.
These modern trailblazing women like Ellison-Taylor, Wilkinson, and Polley have used their influential status to improve their organizations and the landscape of accountancy as whole. Pioneers in the profession and established women-owned firms like SDC CPAs (founded by Dee Studler and Krista Doyle) are creating opportunities for generations to come.