Diversity and inclusion critical to tackling financial talent shortage

Key findings:

Almost two-thirds (64%) of UK finance professionals rated diversity and inclusivity as a key factor when choosing an organisation to work for, as revealed in new survey data.

This wake-up call for employers comes in the biggest global talent survey across the accountancy profession, conducted by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants). Its latest annual Global Talent Trends Survey 2024 provides a unique and vital view of how people feel about their life at work in the financial sector.

“The shortage of talent and cost of meeting pay rise demands, together with the many job opportunities available to professional accountants, mean that attracting and retaining talent presents a huge ongoing challenge for employers. So it’s unsurprising that the number of respondents planning to move away from their organisations remains high, at 54% again this year,” says Jamie Lyon, Global Head of Skills, Sectors, Technology at ACCA.

“However, with 64% of respondents saying that a strong diversity and inclusion culture is a key factor in choosing an employer, there’s a real opportunity for employers who are strong in this area to differentiate themselves in a competitive market.”

While diversity and inclusion (DE&I) strategies are nothing new, they have risen in importance amongst financial talent when it comes to choosing a place to work – putting the pressure on employers to deliver DE&I policies to attract and retain the best talent.

The newest generation of talent, Gen Z, are more likely to put DE&I at the forefront of their job search, with 76% of this age group rating it as a key factor in their choice of organisation. ACCA’s research is backed up by a wealth of studies which show Gen Z is more principled than their older counterparts, and working in a diverse and inclusive environment matters more to them than salary.

How to make sure you have the right people?

As attracting and retaining talent for the future becomes more important to companies, understanding what employees really value from employers is becoming critical to not just know, but to implement and put into action.

With an ongoing cost of living crisis, it’s no surprise that 50% of UK finance professionals are planning to ask for a pay rise within the next 12 months. A further 49% believe that the best way to secure a pay rise is to leave their current organisation. And with 54% of finance professionals expecting their next career move to be external to their current organisation, employers need to embrace this insight and take steps to retain talent.

Without the shoring up of other workplace factors like diversity and inclusion, hybrid working models and mental health support, ACCA believes there is a real risk that employers could face a move of half of their current workforce in the next 12 months.

“The latest Global Talent Trends report shed interesting light on the situation around the world and at home here in the UK. While the UK is outperforming in some areas such as offering hybrid working and mental health support, it’s clear that DE&I policy is a growing factor of importance for finance professionals,” says Gemma Gathercole, Strategic Engagement Lead for England at ACCA.

“Equally important is skills and training. The profession is excited by AI but 54% say they are not developing the skills needed for the future workplace. Finding ways to support employers in implementing effective DE&I strategies, attracting and retaining diverse talent, and remaining competitive from a salary and job opportunities perspective is something ACCA will continue to support members with through education and policy outreach.”

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