Breaking Barriers for Women with Kaufman Rossin’s Diversity Initiative
Kaufman Rossin is celebrating women and their achievements throughout Women’s History Month. Maria Toledo, international tax services senior manager, helped establish the firm’s Diversity Initiative to foster an inclusive culture, encourage different perspectives and empower employees to thrive professionally and personally. Through the Diversity Initiative, she co-leads Kaufman Rossin Empowering Women (KREW), which aims to enhance the recruitment, retention and advancement of women at the firm by providing opportunities to share information, hone skills and develop professional relationships to promote career development.
Below, Maria discusses her experiences and shares advice to women balancing their professional and personal lives.
How are you breaking barriers faced by women in your field?
Being a woman is not easy. To begin with, we create barriers in our own heads. In reality, I believe there are no limitations. We just have to work smarter and harder, think differently and be fearless!
I’m the mother of two girls. When I became a manager in the tax department about six years ago, I felt a little bit uneasy about having more responsibilities at work and home. I did not want to give up my career and at the same time I wanted to be with my kids, husband and family. I wanted to fully enjoy these two important aspects of my life.
It occurred to me that it would be helpful if Kaufman Rossin had some type of support group that would alleviate the struggles we all go through on a daily basis ─ a place where we could share stories and experiences and help each other achieve our goals.
After talking to several people in the firm at every level and joining forces with a group of amazing men and women, we received support from management and were able to create the Diversity Initiative. The initiative has been going on for more than two years now and it includes KREW as one of its groups.
Our Diversity Initiative includes not only women but all genders, levels and ethnicities who work as a team. We empower and help each other to succeed and make Kaufman Rossin an even greater place to work.
By having this group, I believe we have helped many people directly and indirectly across the firm and in the community. We motivate our colleagues to be the change they want to see, and to have the courage to be future leaders. This positively impacts our culture, client service, and ultimately drives our success.
What advice would you give to women in your field?
- Have courage and confidence! Force yourself to step out of your comfort zone and make your goals happen.
- Don’t be afraid to fail and see failure as an opportunity. Resilience is very important!
- Be brave and take risks. Most of the time, opportunities come to us just once. If you believe the opportunity is right, go for it and make it fit for you.
- Ask for feedback and receive it openly. It will allow you to grow and learn. If you need to reinvent yourself, do it! We are constantly evolving.
- Be persistent, passionate and patient, but don’t give up!
- Always help others and be grateful to all.
- And last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Someone recently reminded me of that little detail and it makes a big difference.
What else would you like to share related to women’s empowerment?
We (men and women) need to work together on empowering each other. One way we do this is to support events like The Women’s Fund Power of the Purse luncheon. We’d love to have you join us in supporting their work to improve the quality of life for women and girls. As a community, we need to encourage more men to support us and continue working together to achieve our dreams at work, home and beyond.
Maria Toledo, CPA, MST, is a International Tax Principal at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.