With the majority of partner level positions being held by white men, the audit and accountancy profession is lagging behind other businesses when it comes to the diversity of senior management, according to research by the UK’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC).

The research, contained in the FRC’s upcoming Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession report, found that one in three UK audit and accountancy firms do not collect diversity data on their workforce.

It found that while women and ethnic minority groups are increasingly being appointed to middle management roles at firms, the firms need to do far more to improve the pipeline of future talent and promote women, BAME and disabled employees to the top levels of management.

The FRC noted the irony that many of these firms advise large corporation on their own diversity and inclusion strategies.

The statistics revealed that while women make up 46% of manager roles, just 17% of women rise to partner level roles.

However, it found that the industry has a strong pipeline of future talent with women making up 37% of professional body membership, up from 35% in 2014.

The FRC has encouraged firms to sign up to the Government’s Equalities Office pledge which challenges business leaders to take personal responsibility for promoting better diversity and inclusion in their workplaces.

The FRC’s chief executive Jon Thompson said: “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.

“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.”