Reflections of a Former Big 4 Female Partner – by Jane Malecki

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have been inspiring.  However, outside of legal confrontations and public humiliations, little is being done to ensure this behavior will stop happening and that the glass ceiling obstacles that have been in place for the last 4 decades, are removed once and for all.

As a woman who struggled up the “ladder” while raising children, I have decided to be a catalyst for real change by serving professional women on a full-time basis as a professional business coach, trainer and speaker.  As a result, I have reflected on the role of women in today’s world and have some observations and some “Mother’s Day Resolutions” to share and ask you to share these resolutions with others.

  1. The ongoing war between Stay-At-Home Mom’s and Mom’s who work in the professional world needs to end.  What our mothers and grandmothers fought for was for us to have the ability to have choices.  The choice to work outside the home or not after starting a family is a choice many women face and fear.  No matter which path you choose, you are making an important impact on society as a woman through all the hats you wear as a result.
  2. The “B” word needs to be stricken from the vocabulary unless it is being used to describe the lineage of a dog.  Otherwise, it’s a put down for women and is used all too often by women describing other women they don’t like.  Let’s figure out how to work well together ladies and keep it respectful.
  3. Keep your sex life out of the office.  Don’t sleep with bosses, colleagues, etc.  Especially if they are already married.  It never ends well, and it perpetuates the myth that women need to “sleep their way to the top.” Men use this all too often to say that the relationship was consensual when most of the time it was a power play and not truly consensual.
  4. Let’s help one another.  Women often work hard and keep their head down at work because they are juggling so much and need to squeeze the most out of every minute.  Take a breath and network with your colleagues.  If you need insight and help, ask a woman you admire for advice.  If you are someone who has been successful, find a woman whom you could help.  I’m not talking about formal mentorship programs. Network and help each other in much the same way men have been doing for eons and continue to do today without ever having to think about it.
  5. Please put your oxygen mask on first.  We can’t help others if we are exhausted, over worked and malnourished.  Sorry, Oreos and coffee do not a balanced meal make.

How do I know these 5 things will make a change?  Because I have been a professional woman raising a family in one of the most demanding professional growth situations there are; Partnerships!  My hope is that anyone who reads this article will learn from my experience.

Most of my career has been in the Big 4 Accounting world.  The Big 4 are notorious for a long and difficult partnership admission process.  This is also true also for many management consulting firms the white shoe law firms and investment bankers of Wall Street.

My story is a bit unique.  I will try to be brief and break it down below.

  • Happily employed at Firm A for over 10 years,
  • Up for partner and well exceeded the seven-figure revenue threshold as well as other firm goals, to make partner.
  • Denied partnership admission.  I was told that the standards for me making partner were “different” from that of the candidates who were voted through that year (all male) and whose numbers were not at the same level.
  • Left Firm A joined Firm B.
  • Obtained a lawyer and reached a settlement on grounds of sexual discrimination and harassment.
  • Firm A merges with Firm B.
  • PANIC! Lost 40 lbs. (I wish I could do that now) but kept my chin up.
  • Partners from Firm B actively fought for my admission in the new firm.
  • Admitted to Partner in the newly formed firm.

This is the abbreviated version of my story.  Also, it’s just chapters 1 & 2 of my professional journey.  I’ll tell you more later in other videos and vlogs.  For now, I think you get the picture.

So, to my other Glass Ceiling Warrior sisters, please comment on this article.  Let me and other readers know what you think.  Also, please share this article with other wonderful women in your life.



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