More women entering profession but leadership roles still uncommon

THE NUMBER OF WOMEN entering the accountancy profession is on the rise but more needs to be done to ensure the profession is diverse, particularly in leadership roles, warns ACCA.

According to UK figures the number of qualified female accountants rose to 34% from 30% between 2006 and 2011.

The institute researched women on FTSE 100 boards for 2012 and found that the number of women in this area rose 17.5% in 18 months. However, the majority of roles were non-executive director positions. There were 20 executive director females in the FTSE 100; nine are current CFOs, two are former CFOs now CEOs; and two have held major finance roles in the past.

The latest figures show that 65% of female executive directors have a finance background compared to 45% of their male counterparts.

Helen Brand, (pictured) chief executive of ACCA, said: “As an industry we must work together to ensure that female talent is nurtured and supported. Despite encouraging numbers of women entering the profession, they are still under-represented in high level positions in the industry.

“The profession must work together collectively to find ways of helping women reach the more senior positions.” 

However, PwC research reveals that UK women are less likely to be in work and that the country ranks behind its OECD counterparts in managing to place women in work.

The UK fell to 18th in the Women in Work Index for 2011 having previously ranked 13th in 2000 and 14th in 2007.

The Nordic countries lead the Index, with Norway in pole position, followed by Sweden and Denmark. These three countries have consistently occupied the top three positions in 2000, 2007 and 2011.

Margaret Cole, general counsel and executive board member at PwC, said: “At a time when the watchword for the UK economy is growth, encouraging greater economic empowerment for women has to be a priority to get the UK back on the road to recovery. It is worrying that increasing employment opportunities for women seems to have been pushed down organisations’ agendas since the recession.

“Actions need to be taken from the top of organisations. Businesses should be held to account over their female promotion pipelines and diversity goals. Young women want visible and aspirational role models at all levels and boards should be accountable for providing these.

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