For years the accounting profession has cast a male-shaped shadow, but gender equality is not the only issue the industry is grappling with. Accounting Today reports the sector has long been asking how to “diversify its ranks” to better represent minorities (as well as women), especially in the senior positions of businesses today.
The Top 50+50 Accountancy Firms survey revealed in October 2017 that when looking at the statistics for ethnic minorities in accountancy, 48% of respondents said they had no partners from ethnic minority backgrounds. When it came to qualified accountants, 90% of firms had under 25% from ethnic minority backgrounds. Just this month (March 2018), Accounting Today revealed that less than half (46%) of corporate tax professionals consider diversity and inclusion important to their departments.
Is Anything Being Done to Improve Diversity Within Accountancy?
The publication for ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) Economia states that the accounting profession is developing “good practices” to embrace diversity but “progress is too slow and patchy and firms risk losing … talented young people, as a result.” But why is this? Let’s outline a few potential causes:
Accounting Firms and Policies
When it comes to diversity policies within companies, a survey revealed that less than half (42%) of participants were positive about the effectiveness of them, while 27% described them as “a smokescreen that disguises inequality,” Economia reported. The publication reports how part of the problem with these policies is that there is confusion over what they actually mean. The definition is viewed narrowly within a legal context but the need for diversity awareness and experience isn’t being communicated throughout businesses.
Current affairs magazine Holyrood stated that “the profession as a whole must work harder to engage young people with the opportunities and rewards it offers, and instil confidence that it welcomes a variety of backgrounds and academic levels.” The publication revealed that ACCA are introducing “enhancements” to their qualification to ensure members are trained in skills which include ethical and emotional intelligence and vision. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is the global body for professional accountants and believes the industry should “identify more proactive approaches to… improve social mobility and attract and support a diverse global talent pool.
Public View on Accounting
The Accounting Foundation reported one of the reasons accounting hasn’t reached its diversity goals is due to misperceptions about accounting as a career. Studies suggest that young people, including underrepresented minorities, do not understand what accountants do nor appreciate the career opportunities the profession offers, the foundation states. They believe improving curriculums and expanding internships, for example, are “essential elements in creating a new, meaningful perception of the accounting profession.”
If you’d like to know more about the accounting industry, check out Aspiring Accountants’ About Accounting section. You’ll find a vast array of articles and videos from ‘What is Financial Accounting?’ to ‘The Different Types of Accountant‘.
The industry may no longer be seen as middle-aged, white and male, but do you think the accounting profession is doing enough to promote diversity? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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