Blog Archive

Monday, March 2, 2015

Celebrating Women’s History Month and Diversity

Note to our readers: Some of the content in this blog update contains information from McGladrey: Beyond the Balance Sheet, Second Edition (1926-2013) by Kathleen Gilbert and Dan Deuel.

March 2-8 is designated as 2015 National Women's History Week. This annual recognition of women's accomplishments always occurs during the first week of March. This years' theme, "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives," presents an opportunity to weave women's stories - individually and collectively - into the essential fabric of our nation's history, and into the history of McGladrey.
Diane McNulty was an unusual sight around McGladrey, Hansen and Dunn's Mason City, IA office when she was hired in August 1966. She was a women, and she did accounting work. It wasn't unusual for women to work for accounting firms - or for McGladrey - in those days, even going back to McGladrey's founding in 1928. But at that time, most women worked as secretaries, receptionists and in other administrative jobs that women were largely confined to in American business before the 1960s. Only few worked as professionals, and even then, those in the accounting industry worked mostly as bookkeepers or paraprofessionals. None were CPAs.
Diane McNulty - Mason City Tax Partner

McNulty earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Drake University (where she was the only female accounting major in her class). She worked in private accounting for two years before joining McGladrey. Yet in the early years, she was expected to not only be an accountant, but also do what was considered the "women's work" - answering phones and making coffee - again, a common practice in accounting firms and Corporate America during that time. Then she took the CPA exam in 1968...and passed it the first time. She was one of only five women in the state of Iowa who held the certificate and license that worked in the profession. My, how the profession has changed!

For the most part, McNulty said her trailblazing was not difficult. "Mason City was a pretty laid-back office," she said. "Being a woman and a CPA might have been [more challenging] in a bigger office, but I had good working relationships with everyone. The clients didn't mind, either. Once they realized I could do the work, the fact that I was a woman didn't bother them."

When McNulty became a partner in 1976, she was the first woman voted to be a partner in McGladrey's history. "As far as blazing a path, I always tried to do my best job and do what I loved to do; the fact that they continued to name women partners to the firm speaks for itself," she said.

Diane McNulty was a partner at McGladrey until she retired in 2011. But McGladrey has never retired its focus on diversity and inclusion. In fact, in 2013, the firm named Richard Caturano, former chairman of the AICPA, as its leader of culture, diversity and inclusion (CDI). Various women-focused and other special interest groups continue to promote those efforts across the firm's 80 offices nationwide today. You can learn more about McGladrey's CDI efforts on our website.

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