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October 13, 2020

FRC: Diversity at most senior levels needs to improve

By Joe Pickard

The accountancy profession needs to prioritise increased diversity at the most senior levels of management, as partner level is the is the least diverse when it comes to gender, ethnicity, and disability, according to recent data collected by the UK’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC).

In the FRC’s Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession report 2019 revealed that, for the first time in five years, women make up 50% of all students at the professional bodies and 37% of members, yet at the largest firms less than 20% of partner positions are held by women.

BAME individuals only made up 6.7% of partner roles at the largest firms and no firms with under 200 employees reported that they had BAME managers.

Other key data from the report revealed:

  • All of the professional bodies have diversity policies or statements in place, however three of the 20 audit firms questioned (15%) still do not have a diversity policy in place. There is no valid reason for firms to not have a diversity policy and urgent action is needed on this front.
  • A high percentage of accountancy bodies continue to collect data on the age, race and sex of their members and students.
  • There has been a decrease in the number of bodies collecting diversity data in respect of disability and race/ethnicity.

FRC CEO Jon Thompson said: "Firms have a responsibility to ensure they are leading by example on diversity and inclusion and that they have appropriate policies in place to address any shortcomings. While this year’s findings reveal that some progress has been made, firms without meaningful policies in place are dropping the ball. It is clear progress needs to be fast-tracked so that the senior management of firms more closely reflects the wider workforce it represents.”

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