Across the private equity sector, only 12.6% of top executives are women. In fact, right now there has never been a female CEO at any of the 22 largest U.S. investment banks, and women in the financial industry hold less than 19% percent of board seats.
Additionally, the "leaky talent pipeline" is a real threat facing employers, both small and large. Women are leaving their jobs at a more rapid pace than men—holding 53% of entry-level jobs, 37% of mid-management roles and just 26% of senior management positions.
Despite this reality, one equity sector employer has found there exists a huge, untapped market of smart, high-caliber employees for financial services companies: working mothers.
And it's not just financial services who are taking advantage of this trend, either.
Accordion Partners, a strategic and operational finance consulting firm in New York City, is among those employers who see working mothers as an underserved talent solution and are actively recruiting career-driven mothers to join their workforces.
Accordion’s flexible business model—which augments full-time consultants with project-based specialists—empowers parent professionals to stay in the game, while not losing out on precious family time. This type of model gives working mothers the option to work remotely, indicate their travel commitment and have a say on which projects they work on.
"We’re looking for the best of the best in strategic finance, financial planning and analysis, and accounting professionals — whether you’re a few years out of an investment banking program or raising a couple of new additions to the family,” said Sonny Thadani, COO at Accordion. “Our flexible business model allows and empowers our consultants to take on a few months of client work, often with the ability to work remotely, with a few weeks off between projects to spend time with their families or pursue other passions on the side.”
Working mothers, in particular, are a group that financial services firms generally have trouble keeping and growing professionally. Of course, many Accordion employees are parents of young children too, so they appreciate and respect the balance between family, career and personal time in as rigorous and stimulating an industry as private equity, Thadani explains.
“There’s a common bond that comes with having young children that many of our consultants say actually improves the connection with our clients," he says. "At the end of the day, clients want to work with people who understand them and who they can connect with on a personal and professional level.”
Why it works for working moms
One working mother at Accordion, Pamela Stern, a director in the company’s Financial Accounting & Advisory Services Practice, says consulting with Accordion has provided her with tremendous opportunity to leverage past experience and take on new challenges in the world of finance.
"I am incredibly passionate about my career, and Accordion's diverse client base supports my professional growth and development in a more unconventional way than that of an in-house CFO or controller role," she says. On the motherhood side, she explains that the firm truly believes that family comes first, which allows her the flexibility to be home for the ‘can't miss’ kid moments.
"It's quite special to be part of a team that holds family time in such high regard.” says Stern, previously Director of Financial Systems at Refinery29 after spending eight years at KKR & Co., where she managed the financial reporting team for KKR’s family of Private Equity Funds.
Thadani adds that taking an extended break from work has traditionally meant taking a hit financially or professionally. At Accordion, on the other hand, the work that done for clients — finance transformation, transaction execution, performance improvement, operational accounting, technical accounting, and others — gives consultants an opportunity to engage in diverse and impactful work, building skills and experience, all with flexibility and control.
The Accordion model doesn’t pigeonhole professionals into one specific group or industry, he notes. By working on-the-ground with private equity firms and management teams at portfolio companies within a broad range of industries and at different stages in their lifecycles, working mothers can maximize the value of time spent in the field. The idea is that every minute and each client engagement will help push their careers forward.
“We have a business-building culture here at Accordion — we take what we do exceptionally seriously, but also understand the importance of a fulfilling and robust personal life," Thadani says.