My hope for women in the workforce
If you told me early in my career that I would be working as a C-suite executive helping champion and elevate the upward movement and careers of women at Wipfli, I don’t know that I would have believed you.
And yet, it shouldn’t come as a surprise since I’ve been surrounded by careerwomen my entire life.
My mother went back to work when I was young, building her career without a college education. My aunt has spent her career as a successful marketing and PR executive and still consults today. My grandmother, born in a generation where women rarely worked outside of the home, ran a food service program for a school district in Wisconsin. Whether or not I realized it, seeing women I admired building their careers influenced my path from the start.
In 2018, after nearly 30 years working in human resources in a variety of roles, I made an industry change. I established myself in a new organization, albeit late in my career. I was deliberate about looking under the hood to find a company with ethics, principles and standards that reflect my own.
My search led me to Wipfli.
Wipfli has built a culture where it is safe to have honest and upfront conversations. The firm cultivates programs and initiatives that align with my values. Wipfli believes in building up its associates and giving them hard challenges. Wipfli’s workforce is around 52% women and 29% of our firm’s partners and principals are women. Women also hold about 21% of our firm level leadership positions, but the work isn’t done just because there are bodies in seats.
Now that I am an executive, I want to help grow these initiatives and advocate for all associates. Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day, and my hope is the women at Wipfli — at every point in their careers — feel empowered. I want them to be candid and bold as they navigate opportunities, challenges, and beliefs about how careers should be managed, and I can’t wait for them to capitalize on opportunities for growth and achievement.
As part of our equity work, Wipfli offers multiple initiatives to support women:
- LEAP program: This sponsorship program is for women associates who want to join the senior manager, director, partner, and principal ranks. It pairs high-potential women with sponsors from the executive leadership level.
- Women of Wipfli (WoW): Women of Wipfli is a business resource group whose purpose is to cultivate an environment where women have an equitable opportunity to achieve their goals and find their version of success. WoW, which is made up of associates throughout the firm, is helping us develop LEAP. Together, we’re going to improve the career trajectories of women associates and increase the firm’s attention to equity during recruitment and retention practices.
- Internal and external coaching: Wipfli conducts and supports professional and executive coaching programs offered by certified coaches who provide individual focus on development, goals, and career trajectory.
It’s never too late to join one of these groups or initiatives. I’m proof of that — I recently joined Chief, a think tank and network for executive women aimed at strengthening their leadership, magnifying their influence, and paving the way to bring others with them. I decided it was time to invest in me. I plan to join Chief’s core groups, build a network, and take advantage of learning opportunities.
As I embark on new adventures in my career, I hope to see the next generation of women take up the space they deserve — being courageous, standing up for themselves and collaborating with one another.