May 2024

Women working in the accountancy sector may not be getting enough time off work to recharge and relax, with new research from caba showing that over a third of female accountants (41%) say they’ve avoided taking annual leave on more than one occasion because they were anxious about handing over their to-do list.

The study of over 200 female chartered accountants in the UK found that almost nine in 10 (88%) women regularly sacrifice their own work-life balance to accommodate the needs of others.

A similar percentage (85%) said they struggle to set boundaries with colleagues and their manager regarding their time, workload or personal priorities. When asked why this is, two in five (40%) said that keeping people happy is more important. Over one in three (36%) said they worry they’re not deserving of their place at the company if they don’t push themselves.

Meanwhile, almost two in three (62%) respondents said they regularly experience feelings of self-doubt regarding their abilities within their role. As a result, one in eight (80%) said they find themselves seeking validation from others for their work or decisions.

Two in five (40%) said they’re uncomfortable telling their manager about areas they feel less confident in, while four in five (80%) said they often feel like they need to work harder than their peers to prove their worth.

When respondents were asked about which strategies and resources they think would be helpful in combatting feelings of work-related self-doubt, the most common responses were flexible working arrangements (34%), regular feedback and recognition from their manager (33%) and access to training and development programmes (30%). Commenting on the findings, Ola Opoosun, Head of Support Services at caba, said: “The study findings show that there are still significant challenges for women working in the accountancy profession and that the industry still has some way to go if it’s to become a truly inclusive space for women. Many female chartered accountants are struggling with a lack of confidence in their role and this, in addition to other factors such as gender bias and a lack of representation at a senior level, is stopping them from reaching their full potential.

“We urge employers to reflect on the strategies and resources highlighted by many of the women who participated in our study and ensure that they’re doing everything they can to support and empower their female employees.”

As part of its ongoing commitment to the welfare of the ICAEW community, caba has launched its new Women in Accounting Hub, a dedicated online space where female ICAEW members can find support, development courses and other helpful resources.