The Commission for Racial Equality has warned accountancy firms to do more to fight racial discrimination, or risk falling foul of the law.
This year’s Accountancy Age Top 50 survey reveals that, of the firms providing a breakdown of ethnicity, just 4% of partners came from ethnic minorities. Almost one in three firms employed no ethnic partners at all, and one in four did not provide any information on this sensitive area.
‘It comes as very little surprise that only 4% of partners in accountancy firms are from ethnic minority backgrounds,’ a CRE spokeswoman said. ‘This situation can only be reversed if employers pursue good employment practice and proof their employment policies and procedures against possible unlawful discrimination.’
There are signs that the profession is taking the initiative. In April, the Big Four firms joined forces to launch a campaign to attract more graduates from ethnic minorities. On top of this, 86% of the Top 50 firms have a diversity policy in place.
Despite this, the figures paint a picture of an industry that has a long way to go to offer full equal opportunities, particularly when combined with the alarmingly low percentage of female partners.
Following last year’s revelation that just 10% of partners are female, the Equal Opportunities Commission warned that firms were missing out on valuable talent. But one year on, the situation has worsened. On average, just 8% of partners are women. One in 10 firms has no female partners.
The CRE said there was evidence of individuals being overlooked for promotion, earning less and experiencing ‘unpleasantness or even harassment’ as a result of their race.
Larking Gowen emerged as the most impressive firm with 25% of partnersfrom an ethnic minorities.
£6.3BN – TOP 50 FEE INCOME
£4.6BN – BIG FOUR FEES
£1.5BN – MID TIER FEES
£195M – SMALL FIRMS FEES
£2M – BEST FEES PER PARTNER
£298M – INSOLVENCY FEES
£2.4BN – AUDIT/ACCOUNTING
£854M – CORP FINANCE
92% – PARTNERS MALE.