Forty years on from the phrase ‘glass ceiling’ being used to define thwarted careers and ambitions – especially for women – ACCA is calling for business leaders to show real and measurable progress on diversity and social mobility issues.
Helen Brand OBE, ACCA’s chief executive, says: ‘2018 is the 40th anniversary of the phrase ‘glass ceiling’ first being used by business consultant Marilyn Loden. She stated ‘we have to take a wider view and seek progress on social mobility – unequal access to opportunities still exists for many women and men.
‘ACCA has welcomed policies to address issues such as disparity in pay and boardroom diversity. There are examples of good practice highlighted in our recent report Generation next: managing talent in large accountancy firms which shows how the Big Four are addressing diversity to ensure women have a place and voice in their business such as Deloitte conducting ‘blind interviews’ to tackle recruitment bias and also introducing gender targets to enable the development and retention of women to reach leadership positions (for example).
In the UAE and to further highlight ACCA’s commitment, ACCA brought together senior leaders from across the UAE to an annual event titled ‘Leading change’ which forms as part of their Women in Finance Forum. At the event, Lindsay Degouve de Nuncques, head of ACCA Middle East stated: ‘The accountancy profession is an attractive career choice for many because of the flexibility and choice it offers. At ACCA we’ve made opportunity a reality, with an open access policy that enables anyone to qualify as a professional accountant. By simply removing the need for prior qualifications, we’ve created access to a profession that offers a rewarding career for all.
In the UAE and wider Middle East, we have seen a higher percentage of women going through the education cycle, however when we look at this transition into the workplace, we don’t see a reflective rate. Business leaders need to ensure this talent is not lost as a result of the leaking pipeline, in order to truly lead diverse organisations which go beyond the numbers.”
ACCA says employers and their recruitment strategies are an imperative part of the success equation for diversity. At the event, Cynthia Corby, Chair of the Women in Finance Forum and Partner at Deloitte Middle East stated: ‘Creating the leaders of tomorrow is an on-going critical strategy for firms in the Middle East. The strategy has to be set from the top, with a culture that embraces the commercial and social benefits of diversity. We have to measure this progress too – after all, what’s not measured can’t be managed.’ She continued ‘Effective corporate strategy and leadership is needed to achieve real and lasting progress. At ACCA, like Deloitte we believe this can be made through a clear recruitment and performance management strategy, HR policies which create flexibility to encourage diversity, setting clear KPIs to measure achievement against these strategic targets, transparent reporting and ensuring diversity is an integral part of how we work now and in the future.’
Key facts about ACCA
ACCA has a strong commitment to gender diversity, both as a professional body and as an employer. Its Council, made up of 36 members, is represented by 58% women (21 Council members).
- 46% of ACCA members and 56% of ACCA students are women
- 55% of ACCA’s senior staff are women
ACCA was the first professional accountancy body to:
- admit a women to membership – Ethel Ayres Purdie
- appoint a woman president – Vera Di Palma
- appoint a woman chief executive – Anthea Rose
- appoint a woman from Asia Pac as its president in 2016 – Alexandra Chin
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