The profession’s gender disparity laid bare

The accountancy profession needs to ensure they are not inadvertently preventing women from gaining access to their qualifications, say two of the UK’s leading experts.

Their call comes as they discover shocking data, which reveals that the profession is systemically holding women back.

Lucy Cohen, CEO of Mazuma Accountants (pictured), and Steve Cox, business intelligence director at IRIS Software Group, have spent the last year analysing gender data from multiple sources, and the results make for sombre reading.

Taking a deep dive into the financial metrics of female-led firms, Cohen and Cox have uncovered that a female-led firm is over 95% less likely to achieve a turnover of over £1 million compared to their male counterparts. In the UK, it is estimated that only 0.6% of the total accounting firms in the UK who have at least one female director, have achieved over £1 million in turnover, and even more astonishing, just 43 entirely female-founded or female-managed firms have reached this milestone across the UK.

This stark discrepancy not only highlights the economic barriers women face in professional services, but also raises serious concerns about the equality of opportunity within the industry. The findings suggest that systemic issues, including restricted access to training, critical business networks, and funding opportunities, as well as unconscious bias and gender-based discrimination, are contributing factors that impede the growth of accountancy businesses led by women.

Cohen said: “I’ve spent almost 18 years running a firm in this space, and a lot of time and energy in breaking down barriers. But I can’t do it alone – this is a call to action for all across the profession.”

“We must address these disparities head-on by implementing targeted strategies that support women-led firms and by promoting an inclusive culture that values diverse leadership,” added Cohen.