Top 50+50: How diverse are top UK accountancy firms?

Top 50+50: How diverse are top UK accountancy firms?

The Top 50+50 survey has found that there is still a long way to go for the top accountancy firms in pursuit of increasing diversity

In recent years, discussions around improving diversity, and the importance of diversity in business culture and success have become increasingly present in all industries. For the accountancy industry, it’s a work in progress as firms seek to improve representation of women and individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds at senior levels, close the gender pay gap, and promote inclusive environments.

The Top 50+50 survey has found that there is still a long way to go for the top accountancy firms in pursuit of increasing diversity. While a number of firms have taken measures to improve diversity in their workforce, further progress is required to truly reflect accountancy as an equal, inclusive and diverse sector.

Women in accountancy

The Top 50+50 survey found that just 18% of partners at the top UK accountancy firms were women, compared to 82% men. This figure rose to 45% women when looking at the percentage of female qualified accountants at the firms. This implies that while women are engaged in employment at firms, they are not rising to partner or senior positions.

Similar findings have been revealed in gender pay gap data released by the Big Four. This year, Deloitte’s managing partner for talent Emma Codd said that the firm’s mean pay gap, including partner pay, of 43.2%, was a “stark reminder” that not enough women were in senior roles. As such Deloitte has introduced initiatives to develop women for senior roles, including return to work internship programmes and sponsorship programmes.

But it’s not a problem isolated to the Big Four. In the Accountancy Age Salary Survey, published earlier this year, we found an industry pay gap of 21.5%, above the national average of 18.4%. The difference in annual pay stood at £12,958 with men earning an average of £66,646 and women earning £53,688.

Representation of ethnic minorities

The Top 50+50 survey revealed that 54% of firms had no partners from ethnic minority backgrounds. This figure rose to 69% when looking at firms that had under 10% of partners from an ethnic minority background.

When looking at qualified accountants at the firms, 27% of firms had no accountants from an ethnic minority background, rising to 64% when looking at under 10% representation.

A number of firms have put targets in place to increase representation of individuals from an ethnic minority background. In 2013, EY set targets for 10% black and minority ethnic (BME) representation in its new partner intake, measured on a three-year rolling basis. In 2017, the firm had achieved 11% BME representation.

In addition, on reporting its BAME pay gap in September 2017, PwC said it was releasing the figures as part of a “drive towards becoming a fully diverse and inclusive organisation”, and that it would put processes in place to “retain our junior BAME talent and improve rates of progression to senior management levels”.

Elsewhere KPMG has recently celebrated intersectionality, bringing together BAME and LGBT networks to support workplace diversity.

A diverse future?

The Big Four are leading the way in promoting diversity and tackling under representation head-on, but all firms – small and large – are also taking steps to improve inclusivity. The Top 50+50 survey found that 96% of firms have a diversity or equality policy in place, yet when it came to having a dedicated diversity director, currently only 28% of firms have such an individual at their firm.

Now is the time for diversity to rise up the agenda for the top UK firms, helping to place accountancy at the forefront of change and in a position to champion itself as an open, inclusive and diverse industry.

View the Top 50+50 Accountancy Firms 2018.

Read the Top 50+50 2018 ranking analysis.

 

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