Annual survey of finance professionals reveals 73% say a strong diversity and inclusion culture is a key factor in deciding to work at an organisation, as the talent crunch continues with over half expecting their career next move to be external to their current employer.

This wake-up call for employers comes in the biggest global talent survey across the accountancy profession, ACCA’s latest annual Global Talent Trends Survey 2024 provides a unique and vital view of how people feel about their life at work.

Almost 10,000 professional accountants from 157 countries were asked about the concerns they held around work in the future as well as aspirations for their careers. The survey also assessed key workplace issues such as hybrid working, diversity, mobility and mental health and the cost of living crisis. 

Key themes that have emerged this year are as follows:

1. 73% believe that a strong diversity and inclusion culture would be a key factor in deciding to work at an organisation. Employers have more to do on diversity though as 41% of employees believe their organisation focuses more on certain aspects of diversity than others.

2. Professional accountants have endless career opportunities with over half expecting their next move to be external to their organisation, making retention an ongoing puzzle for employers. 

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3. Global economic strains continue to place huge pressure on talent attraction and retention. 58% will ask their employer for a pay rise in 2024 – but 50% believe they will have to leave their organisation to get one. 

4. Employers are excited by the opportunity AI offers with 78% believing it will enable finance professionals to add more value. But just over a third employees are still concerned about its relentless pace of change.

5. Mental health remains a major challenge with 57% saying their mental health suffers because of work pressures, and almost half still feeling their employer doesn’t consider mental health to be a priority. 

6. Hybrid working is slowly gaining traction, but big mismatches remain between what employees want and what employers demand. 76% of employees say it’s their preferred arrangement but many employers continue to insist on full time office working arrangements. 

Commenting on this, ACCA global head of skills, sectors, and technology, Jamie Lyon, said: “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. However, with 73% of respondents saying that a strong diversity and inclusivity 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.”