We’ve Reached Gender Parity in “Big Four” CEOs

KPMG, one of the largest professional services companies in the world, announced last week that Lynne Doughtie will become its first female CEO and chairperson. She has been with the company since 1985. When Doughtie takes over in July, two of the Big Four accounting firms will have women in the top spot (Deloitte hired Cathy Engelbert as its CEO in February).The transitions at KPMG and Deloitte represent a remarkable shift for the accounting industry: at the start of the year, no woman had ever led a Big Four firm, and they’ll be ending the year with gender parity in the CEO role. The Washington Post points out that the timing might not be such a coincidence, though: accounting started programs to retain female employees in the late 1990s and early 2000s, making Doughtie and Engelbert “graduating members of the earliest class of women whom their firms caught from ‘opting out’ and tried actively to develop into leaders.”Does this mean that the leadership development programs we implemented decades ago are starting to pay off? How do you think we build on these gains and get to parity by 2025? It’s hard to say with two data points, but we like where this may be headed.