As women around the world celebrate and support International Women's Day 2017, we wanted to draw your attention to the article "Women in Finance: Not Adding Up!" published in the recent issue of International Accountant. The article is based on a report by Visible Women (VW), examining gender diversity in the accounting profession. The report found that less than a quarter of the 4,771 executives they profiled were female and highlighted the need for professional accounting bodies to do more to attract and support female members and accountancy firms to do more to promote flexible working practices.

Published forty years after the sex discrimination act became law, a report by Visible Women (VW), examined gender diversity in the accounting profession. The report surveyed the gender diversity of the UK’s top-1000 accounting and finance companies, as well as examining the gender diversity in the talent pipeline.

The report found that of the 1000 accounting firms surveyed, there were 4,771 executive members, directors, company partners and senior accountants. Less than a quarter of the executives they profiled were female and just 1.5% were identified as being women from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. Over half (63.8%) of the accounting firms profiled had no women identified as directors, partners or senior managers. In addition, only 6.5% of the firms had women representing over half of the board members, partners and senior managers, and around 4% of the firms had between 96% and 100% female representation. This evaluation included 43 organisations where the sole proprietor was female, or where women occupied all board and partner positions. Findings also show that nearly all (97.6%) of the accounting firms surveyed had five or fewer female board members and partners.

Moreover, the gender pay gap for senior women in accounting and finance is one of the highest of any UK industry (£37k per year) and this gap only becomes more apparent as women get older. The evidence suggests that increasing numbers of women are now joining the accountancy profession; however, the proportion of female partners, senior managers and directors is increasing at a much slower rate.

Much has been written about the disparity between men and women’s pay. The Office for National Statistics places the current full-time median gender pay gap at 9.4%; the lowest since records began. However, estimates place the gender pay gap for the accounting profession at around 17%, nearly double that of the current national pay gap. The government has set a target to eliminate the gender pay gap “within a generation”. Among the measures being introduced is a requirement for all companies with 250+ employees to publish information on their gender pay gaps by April 2018.


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