ACCA (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is proudly celebrating International Women’s Day today, an annual celebration on 8 March of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
ACCA’s Chief Executive, Ms Helen Brand OBE said, ‘Great progress has been made across the world to accelerate gender parity, but there is still work to be done to improve it. Women still only represent 22% of corporate leaders globally, with a further 33% of firms globally with no women in senior management at all*.’
ACCA uncovered inequality in the working trends of young women in finance careers in an 18,000-strong global survey, ‘Generation Next’, which found:
- Women are more likely to pursue a long term career in finance and accounting (47% would like to stay in the career for more than 5 years compared to 40% of men)
- Women are more likely to expect to stay with their current employer in their next role (42% expect an internal next move, compared to 37% men)
- Women are less likely to pursue entrepreneurial ambitions (84% of men want to start their own business either as their next career move or later in their career, compared to 74% of women)
‘For the inequality these statistics show to become a thing of the past, organisations must build supportive environments and work to eliminate conscious and unconscious bias right across the corporate structure’ says Helen.
At present, ACCA has 480,000 students around the world studying hard to become professional accountants. 54% of them are female, a percentage that is growing year-on-year. With almost a quarter of a million women working towards a professional qualification, ACCA believes the pipeline of motivated, ambitious young women looking to embark on a career in business has never been healthier.
‘Closing the gender gaps are crucial to the global economy’s success’ continues Helen. ‘For female finance professionals that aspire to positions of leadership here are some tips to help you make the most of your current opportunities:
- Find a role model
As you journey up the career ladder, having a role model can help you see where the breadth and depth of female talent is in the organisation and spur you on.
- Explore leadership opportunities
Leadership roles don’t have to be strictly in the workplace. Seek an oversight role and use it to practice your leadership skills. You could start volunteering as a school governor. Once you become an experienced leader, you can apply to other positions such as a non-executive director for a company board. Boards are crying out for diversity, and you’ll be able to bring a different perspective and add value to the table of any organisation through your expertise.
- Children aren’t the only reason for flexible working
Flexibility shouldn’t be a gendered policy. I encourage employees of both genders to request flexible hours to pursue commitments and interests outside of work, whether that be family life, volunteering or entrepreneurial pursuits. Dividing your time can allow you to pursue other areas of interest can make your work life balance more suited to your individual needs. Research shows employees stay with their organisations longer if they’re more satisfied in their roles – and a well-rounded individual who has a positive social impact is likely to be a more valuable employee too.
‘We have been talking about gender inequality in business for far too long, and it is time for change. It will not happen overnight, but we can all take action to accelerate the pace of change and work towards more diversity, and I’m sure 2018 will be another year of continued improvement. Happy International Women’s Day for 2017.’
*Grant Thornton International Business Report 2016: Women in business: turning promise into practice