Deloitte names first female CEO from among big accounting firms

Posted by | February 12, 2015 | Big 4 Accounting firms, Latest Audit Information & News

Audit International, the leading specialists in Internal and External Audit Recruitment across Europe, the US and Asia have just learned Cathy Engelbert is set to become Deloitte’s chief executive in the United States after nearly three decades of working at the world’s largest accounting firm. This designation makes her the first woman to lead any of the big professional services firms.

Cathy Engelbert will become the next CEO of Deloitte LLP, while many of the big four companies have intensified their efforts to recruit and retain female employees, and have in some cases even led the way on gender diversity research, their industries have still been slow to move the needle on women’s representation in leadership. According to a 2010 study by Public Accounting Report., more than 60 percent of U.S. accountants and auditors are women, yet women comprise only about 18 percent of equity partners at the large firms.

While Deloitte’s percentage of female partners is not significantly higher than that of other top firms (Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG), the company has been the first to break several high-profile diversity barriers in the past, such as appointing a female board chairman and a minority CEO.

Cathy Engelbert rose through the ranks of Deloitte as an accountant, though she will now oversee its portfolio subsidiaries, which employ roughly 65,000 people who focus on consulting and tax services as well as auditing and accounting. This U.S. arm of Deloitte reported nearly $15 billion in revenue for fiscal year 2014, marking several years of growth.

Deloitte holds elections for its CEO and chairman roles every four years, like many such firms. After being selected by the board’s nominating committee, the candidates then needs to garner at least two-thirds approval among Deloitte’s voting partners and principals. Meaning that when Engelbert officially assumes her role on March 11, she presumably does so with a strong level of institutional support.


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