Originally posted in Southern Exposure Magazine.

At LBMC, growth and innovation are top priorities. The one-stop-shop for accounting, business consulting, HR outsourcing, and recruiting is constantly evolving to better serve its clients and its employees. And while LBMC is not a small business, its many female leaders and employee programs for women are worth recognizing during National Women’s Small Business Month.

Since its founding in 1984 as a traditional accounting firm, LBMC has grown into a highly ranked and top-performing company. But the LBMC family of companies does so much more than financial advisement. Now, businesses can utilize LBMC for consulting, investment advising, a range of human resource services, recruitment, procurement, technology, and cybersecurity services in addition to accounting services.

However, LBMC would not be able to offer this wide range of personalized services without outstanding leadership and employees backing the mission. What business would want to use HR and recruiting services from a company with unhappy employees?

“To me, our future is all about growth. How are we going to grow our business, what clients are we going to serve, what communities are we going to be in? But most importantly, how are we going to grow our team members?” said John Mark McDougal, CPA at LBMC.

One of the ways LBMC is working to grow its team members is by supporting typically underrepresented employees.

According to US News and World Report, only 31.7% of top executive positions across industries in the US were filled by women in 2021. Additionally, there has been little change in the gender pay gap in recent years, with women making 82 cents for every dollar men in their positions make, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

LBMC stands out against these numbers with a diverse leadership team and programs to support and encourage its female employees. Out of 127 leadership roles listed on the LBMC website, 49 are held by women. The company also just added a woman as its first fulltime remote shareholder.

Leaders like Sharon Powlus, President and CEO of Employment Partners, Michele Endres chief people officer, Suzanne Reed, CMO, Lisa Nix, Shareholder and Practice Leaders Transaction Advisory Services and many more are setting examples both within LBMC and for other companies in their industry.

“Instead of talking about it, I think we’re walking the walk,” said Reed. She believes having women in leadership roles just makes sense. In her eyes, women tend to be better at forming teams and fostering collaboration – skills every strong leader needs. Plus, women diversify typically male-dominated industries, like finance, and bring new ideas to the table.

“I think that the diversity the women bring really just gives us that extra edge,” Reed said. “At LBMC there’s a very entrepreneurial environment – they’re open to many different ideas.”

For Reed, that openness to different perspectives has been impactful. Coming from a background in banking, she is encouraged to use her unique knowledge and skills to find innovative solutions, even if those solutions don’t always work.

“To me that shows a mature company that’s willing to let people take risks,” Reed said. Without years of trials and errors, LBMC could not be the diverse, successful company it is today.

One of the ways LBMC encourages its employees to challenge norms and generate new ideas is through its Women’s Initiative Network (WIN). WIN is led by an employee steering committee that surveys and listens to the women at LBMC about their needs and ways to support them. The main priorities of WIN are to attract, retain, develop and support the female employees of LBMC through networking events, skill development training, panel discussions and more.

It’s hard to know which came first: the positive and encouraging culture for women at LBMC, or the diverse base of women leaders and employees, but the effect is clear. Women are at the helm of many of LBMC’s departments and partners, paving the way for future generations of women in the finance industry and beyond.

As LBMC continues to grow and evolve, its leaders are looking forward to the changes to come.

“I’m really excited to be exploring what is the next level of that LBMC experience for our clients?” said Reed.

After the COVID-19 pandemic upended typical business operations, LBMC, like many companies, is refocusing its gaze on the future. Now that the leadership team at LBMC has adapted and stayed afloat through uncertain times, they can get back to improving all aspects of the company.

For Reed, that’s improving client experience. “I’m proud to say that at LBMC – as always – the client is really at the center of who we are,” said Reed. “Without our clients, there’s not an LBMC.”

And although their clients may not see all of the accomplished women behind the scenes at LBMC, the same collaboration and care that LBMC women experience is consistently extended to client relationships.

“I think it’s just a great example of everyone working together,” said Reed.