As 2019 begins, we continue our series showcasing individual firm company cultures. In our research, accounting graduates continue to position company culture as a major deciding factor when determining which firms would be the best fit for them after graduation. Last month, we featured an interview with Jim Proppe, Managing Partner at Plante Moran. This month, we are excited to speak with Jen Wyne, Executive Director of Human Resources at Moss Adams.
Moss Adams is a fully integrated professional services firm with a 105 year history. They have more than 2,900 professionals and staff across more than 25 locations in the West and beyond. They have won acclaim for leadership on diversity and women’s issues and continue to focus many of their company efforts on these type of important programs.
RCPAR: Moss Adams provides a forum, Forum W, “…to help the firm attract, develop, retain, and advance talented women.” Would you provide some background on how the Forum W project got started and how it has evolved over the years? Also, do you ‘formally’ survey your women professionals to understand what is important to them? If so, are there any insights you can share on the feedback you receive? And, how do you take survey feedback and put it into actionable insights?
JW: We launched Forum W 10 years ago with strong and visible support from our CEO and COO. Like other firms in our industry, we hired as many women as men, yet they hadn’t advanced to partner at the same rate as men. Women are a significant segment of our talent base. Failure to cultivate their careers means lost investment in that talent—and disruption to client service. When Forum W began we measured success by generating interest and participation, and engaging our women in meaningful dialogue about their skills, their goals, and their experiences at the firm. Fast forward 10 years, Forum W has become a part of our DNA and culture as a firm. It is a differentiator for attracting clients and people to the firm. Building on our lessons, we remain laser-focused on the attraction, development and advancement of women while broadening our attention on cultural impact by taking intentional steps to foster an inclusive environment where all employees can thrive.
Through our employee engagement survey, we hear from all our professionals and are able to analyze where we need to focus our efforts. Those areas have ranged from providing more support for mentoring to wanting more opportunities for feedback on their performance. We take this information and incorporate it into our strategy.
Roger CPA Review: Moss Adams has won acclaim for leadership on diversity and women’s issues, including earning spots on the Working Mother 100 Best Companies list, the NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women list, and the Diversity Best Practices Inclusion Index. Has Moss Adams’ inclusive working environment helped overall client relations? And if so, how?
Jen Wyne: We believe Forum W not only benefits the firm, but also the clients we serve. As our clients become more and more diverse, they want to work with a firm that shares the same values. We strongly believe different perspectives and backgrounds help us deliver a better client experience.
RCPAR: How are your diversity initiatives, including Forum W, incorporated with the recruiting process? For those recruits that accept offers with Moss Adams, do you have insights into the level of importance your diversity initiatives factored into their decision?
JW: Increasingly, recruits place a high importance on diversity initiatives and are looking for a firm committed to inclusion & diversity. Our I&D strategy includes a recruiting-specific plan that seeks to advance our I&D priorities. We have early identification, scholarship and outreach programs all designed specifically to reach and engage underrepresented students. Based on surveys we conduct, it is clear these programs play an important part in recruits’ decision process. The stories of how Forum W and our overall inclusion efforts impact peoples’ careers at Moss Adams are meaningful to recruits and serve as a differentiator.
RCPAR: In the Personally Invested section of your 2017 Annual Report there is mention of your GroWth Series which, “inspire[s] women to become leaders and help[s] them strengthen their skills to get them there.” What type of reception have you had with the GroWth series? Has this initiative help strengthen the pipeline of women in leadership positions? And, for the ‘GroWth Series’ how are individuals selected to participate? What feedback have those individuals provided about the program?
JW: The GroWth Series is for high potential women senior managers who are about 1 – 2 years at that level. The one-year program addresses three areas important to becoming leaders in the firm – Building Your Brand, Building Your Team, and Building Your Business. Since the inception of the program three years ago, we’ve had over 50 women nominated by the leadership in their region to participate in the program. We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the program which has boosted confidence among the participants and provided an enhanced perspective on their career at Moss Adams.
RCPAR: Gender diversity is just one element of any diversity initiative. Do other diversity initiatives, e.g., racial, socio-economic, etc., exist within Moss Adams? If so, can you share any details on those initiatives?
JW: Over the last few years, we broadened our inclusion & diversity efforts. Part of our plan is leveraging the success of Forum W and applying it to our I&D strategy. A big component of our plan is to support Business Resource Groups (BRGs). Our BRGs are led at the local level to create community, camaraderie, and connection to the firm while contributing to the firm’s business objectives. Currently we have multiple BRGs across the firm including the Black BRG, Forum W, Latinx, PRiDE (LGBTQ individuals), Racial Equity BRG and Veterans BRG.
RCPAR: Moss Adams is really doing their part to advance women in the profession, but what do you think is lacking holistically within the profession to advance women? And, what would your suggestions be to get ‘everyone’ on board to advance this cause and change the narrative?
JW: Advancing women is something that isn’t unique to our industry and the issues impacting our industry’s ability to solve them is multi-faceted and complex. It’s influenced by a combination of societal norms, a firm’s culture, and a woman’s background and experience. What we’ve learned is if a woman has an advocate who has her back and believes she can succeed, it bolsters her confidence and provides the support, opportunities and encouragement to advance.
RCPAR: If you could sum up Moss Adams’ culture in one word, what would it be?
JW: West …we’re optimistic and cultivate possibility; we’re inventive, collaborative and all-in!
RCPAR: There’s a lot of discussion within the profession regarding ‘Firm Culture’. What is the one thing, with respect to developing culture, that Moss Adams is doing that cannot be found elsewhere in the profession?
JW: The people of Moss Adams are authentic and genuine in all they do. This mindset influences how we care for each other and our clients. We listen and engage with one another which makes for a rich and meaningful client and people experience. We’re truly passionate about each other’s wellness and prosperity.
Thank you to Jen Wyne for the time she took for this interview about company culture at Moss Adams.