by Peter Holtmann:
From our recent global auditing survey of auditors and their career paths, we were keen to understand the role of the professional female auditor. What does it take to be a professional woman in this space? Does the reward pay off? Are there challenges in reaching the higher ranks of the senior auditor and receiving the remuneration that comes with it?
Before we dive into the data, let’s set the scene on the respondents to the survey. We surveyed more than 10,000 auditors globally; 1,200 responded.
The respondents were respectively from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand; then Southeast Asia; followed by Europe, Africa, and Latin America. Our audience was predominantly male (75%) and in the 55 and over age bracket.
Let’s look a little further at some of the younger brackets. We have no reliable data for the 18–25 age bracket. There just wasn’t sufficient response from this demographic. From what we know currently, there are very few young professionals in this space.
In the 26–35 age bracket, we see the beginnings of a strong female presence. In fact, in Australia we see the number of females increasing at 1.5 times the number to males. In the United States, the story returns to the norm of 75 percent male; in Europe, it’s 50 percent. This would indicate that there is an attraction to the role that is being met by employers in markets outside the United States.
In the 36–55 age bracket, the representation of women is now closer to parity in all markets. The ability to retain women in the auditing profession seems to be occurring.
In the 55 and over age bracket, the story turns to one of an almost completely male-dominated space. This may have something to do with the origins of the profession emerging from manufacturing post-war and the roles of the sexes during that time.
Age distribution by country shows the United States with the highest population of auditors older than 55 years of age.
So opportunity abounds for younger female professionals. How are they being remunerated?
Women aged 26–35 are earning $60,000–$120,000 more frequently than men, though in this age range only men are earning more than $120,000.
Between 36–55, men earn higher salaries than women, though women in this range frequently earn more than $120,000.
For auditors 56 and older, the higher earning brackets are dominated by men.
If we weight the averages of respondents to age and salary range for the sexes, it shows a surprising outcome. Women, on average, are earning more than men in all age ranges. The weighted average suggests that women are 10 percent more likely to earn more than men.
Women in Australia have the greatest chance of earning a salary equal to or better than their male colleagues, earning higher salaries almost 20 percent more often than men.
The data from respondents about their own stories in the profession suggests that women are more often subjected to incredulity of their abilities and their outcomes. Their stories say it comes from the auditors aged 55 and older. It may be suggested that this is a result of the era with which the boomers were raised. It’s not a condemnation or an indictment, rather a hypothesis that would require more investigation.
When asked if women would recommend auditing as a career to the younger generation, the answers were predominantly affirmative. The variety of work, the flexibility of lifestyle for those seeking to start a family, the access to entry through training, experience, and qualification were all regarded as equal among sexes and attractors to women.
The survey data and subsequent qualitative analysis suggest that the barriers to entry are faced by the younger generations (18–35). Here the responses are a little more critical of their peers and state that their expertise is being overlooked in place of a blanket statement about being “too young to be experienced.”
The statement was being made by both audit peers and customers. Perhaps this is a factor in keeping women motivated in the profession in regions such as the Americas and Europe, where the data suggest men stay longer in the career.
It’s worth sticking it out! Many respondents said that they are seeking career advancement in the next 1–3 years and that the investment to enter and advance is worth it. Certainly the salary data suggest that the output is supporting the input of time, effort, money, and focus.
In a sector where technical competence is the main game, the glass ceiling may not be as tough to break through as in other sectors. Of course, our data is capturing a percentage of our community. Greater response to future surveys and willingness to engage in focus groups, feedback sessions, and interviews may show us a more detailed picture with greater depth from the stories being collected.
In my opinion, data and statistics aside, from my experiences as an auditor working alongside many professional women, I would say there is no reason why their competencies should be treated as anything other than equal. I highly regard the opinion of many female auditors because of their greater experiences and technical competence to mine. I would strongly encourage women to push hard and drive for the recognition and the remuneration that is on par with their male counterparts.
If you would like to contribute your own personal story to the compendium of global auditors, I would be grateful for your contribution. You can respond to me by email at email@example.com.
About the author
Peter Holtmann is president and CEO of Exemplar Global (formerly RABQSA International Inc.) and has more than 10 years of experience in the service and manufacturing industries. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Western Sydney in Australia and has worked in industrial chemicals, surface products, environmental testing, pharmaceutical, and nutritional products. Holtmann has served on various international committees for the National Food Processors Association in the United States and on the Safe Quality Foods auditor certification review board.
TAG: auditing survey.