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The Financial Reporting Council has accused the audit and accountancy profession of “lagging behind business” when it comes to the diversity of senior management.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has called on accountancy firms to do “far more” to maximise their pipeline of future talent and promote women, BAME and disabled employees to the top levels of management.
FRC’s upcoming Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession report found that the majority of partner level roles in audit and accountancy firms are being held by white men, while women and ethnic minority groups are increasingly being appointed to middle management roles.
According to FRC, the statistics reveal that while women make up 46 per cent of manager level roles at audit and accountancy firms, just 17 per cent of women rise to partner level roles.
A similar trend can be seen at smaller firms with less than 200 employees, where 52 per cent of manager level roles are held by women, but just 11 per cent of women hold partner level roles.
The FRC revealed, however, that the industry has a strong pipeline of future talent, with women making up 37 per cent of professional body membership, up from 35 per cent in 2014.
“The business case for improved diversity has been made and now it’s time for the audit and accountancy profession to take further positive action,” said FRC chief executive Sir Jon Thompson.
“While it is encouraging to see more firms implementing diversity and inclusion strategies and more women, ethnic minority groups and disabled people being appointed to middle management roles, more needs to be done to ensure the firms are not limiting access to the most senior roles.”
The FRC is challenging firms to take rapid action to address this gap and report on their progress. According to the watchdog, one step would be for firms to sign up to the Government Equalities Office pledge, which is challenging business leaders to take personal responsibility for promoting better diversity and inclusion in their own workplaces.