Still not enough fe­male lead­ers in ac­coun­tancy, watch­dog warns

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Michael O’Dwyer

THE ac­count­ing watch­dog has warned the pro­fes­sion to im­prove di­ver­sity in its se­nior ranks as women still hold less than a fifth of top jobs at the UK’s big­gest firms.

Half of all stu­dents reg­is­tered with pro­fes­sional ac­count­ing bod­ies are now women but a lack of rep­re­sen­ta­tion per­sists in lead­er­ship po­si­tions, the Fi­nan­cial Re­port­ing Coun­cil (FRC) found. Women make up 37pc of ac­coun­tants but less than a fifth of part­ners at the big­gest firms are fe­male. The FRC’s Key Facts and Trends re­port found that women are now in a slim ma­jor­ity in man­ager roles at firms with fewer than 2,000 em­ploy­ees but re­main un­der-rep­re­sented at di­rec­tor and part­ner level.

Sir Jon Thomp­son, the coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, 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.”

Only 6.7pc of part­ners at the largest firms are from eth­nic mi­nori­ties, com­pared with about 14pc of the wider pop­u­la­tion of Eng­land and Wales at the last cen­sus in 2011. None of the firms sur­veyed with fewer than 200 em­ploy­ees re­ported having any BAME man­agers.

Dec­la­ra­tions re­lat­ing to dis­abil­ity are low with an av­er­age of 1.7pc of man­agers dis­clos­ing in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to dis­abil­ity, the watch­dog said.

Sir Jon said: “It is clear progress needs to be fast-tracked so that the se­nior man­age­ment of firms more closely re­flects the wider work­force it rep­re­sents.”

The fig­ures came as mid-tier firm BDO over­took PwC as the firm with the largest num­ber of Lon­don-listed au­dit clients.

BDO, the UK’s fifth largest ac­coun­tant by rev­enue, has 310 listed au­dit clients com­pared with PwC’s 307, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures from Ad­viser Rank­ings.

The firm has an es­tab­lished client base on Lon­don’s junior Aim mar­ket but has won more FTSE Main Mar­ket work, in­clud­ing tripling its num­ber of FTSE 250 au­dit clients to 17.

The Big Four ac­coun­tants – Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC – still au­dit ev­ery FTSE 100 com­pany.

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