Rapid action needed on diversity

Sir John Thompson

The accountancy profession needs to take rapid action to address the diversity gap at senior levels, says the Financial Reporting Council. The vast majority of partner level roles remain in the hands of the ‘pale and male’, and the FRC believes the profession is now lagging behind the rest of business when it comes to the diversity of senior management.

There is concern too that just one in three UK audit and accountancy firms collect diversity data for their workforce.

The FRC emphasised it was also ‘ironic’ that accountancy firms are advising large corporations on their diversity and inclusion strategies, but are not doing enough to maximize their own pipeline of future talent and promote women, BAME and disabled employees to the top level of management.

The latest stats from the FRC show women make up 46% of manager level roles at audit and accountancy firms, but just 17% of women rise to partner level roles. A similar trend can be seen at smaller firms with less than 200 employees, where 52% of manager level roles are held by women, but just 11% of women hold partner level roles.

The FRC said it was encouraging that the industry has a strong pipeline of future talent with women making up 37% of professional body membership, up from 35% in 2014.

The FRC’s CEO, Sir Jon Thompson, stressed: “The business case for improved diversity has been made and now it’s time for the audit and accountancy profession to take further positive action.”