Frills Today, Essentials Tomorrow?

BY JANET M. KELLY

We constantly hear complaints from accounting firms that have trouble retaining staff, especially qualified women.

A recent news item in the Journal seems to reinforce the attitudes that contribute to this problem. The graphic "Grads Choose Steak Over Sizzle" (JofA, Aug.98) gave the results of a poll of recent college graduates about which benefits were important to them. The item compared the graduates' reactions to traditional benefits as opposed to frills.

One of the low-rated frills was day-care facilities, which is not surprising since most recent graduates do not have children. But, I've found, in my school alumni association activities, that 10-year reunions are usually packed with pregnant women and people carrying baby pictures.

The graduates who spurn day-care benefits four or five years after high school may need them later, at a time when they are well-trained and experienced. Firms that want to retain experienced staff should consider that priorities may change.

The Journal has published articles in the past about real-world staffing conditions and how firms will have to deal with them to be successful. But, reporting poll results such as these is likely to bolster the mind-set that causes many capable women to leave public accounting for jobs in business and industry or to practice on their own.

Janet M. Kelly, CPA
Jackson Heights, New York

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