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Making the Accountancy & Finance industry more attractive to women

With women representing 46% of Accountancy employees, it is a steep drop to the mere 15% of women reaching executive level.  This proves it’s no secret that the higher you climb, the more predominant the male-dominated environment becomes. This lack of female representation throughout all levels of the workforce can discourage women to pursue a career in Accountancy and can also make it difficult for those already in the sector to step up to the next level. With the rising struggle of talent shortage, the last thing the Accountancy sector needs is to ignore any adaptations it can make to attract the 50% of the population that is the female.

So how can the companies acclimatise themselves to meet the needs of both genders? Here are four ways we think an organisation can make becoming an Accountant a more attractive sector to work.

  • Flexibility and work-life balance

It’s important that companies make flexibility a very real and existent part of their Accountancy employees work life. A 2015 survey of women in Finance found that over 50 % of women believe that taking advantage of flexible work programs would have adverse effects on their careers. Companies may need to identify why their female employees believe working flexible hours could detriment their careers and address their culture to encourage a healthier balance.  Moreover, younger generations are progressively viewing a good work-life balance as a top priority, insisting on options of working from home and parental leave from employers. Should companies not adapt to the demands of women requiring flexible working hours in the Accountancy functions, they could find their opportunities looking less attractive.

  • Re-entry paths

With only 12% of men utilising leave to take care of children in comparison to 41% of women, it is undeniable that the female population are the most affected when it comes to juggling progression in their career and looking after their children. As maternity/paternity leave is a necessity that will never disappear, companies with a Finance function may wish to consider making attractive adaptations for this career break, in order to retain competitiveness. Offering return programmes, opportunities to re-train, long-term flex programs and other ways to help employees re-enter the workplace provide solutions for those who don’t want to sacrifice either their career or family life. Similarly ensuring that those who have a professional qualification are supported to undertake CPD (put full here – Continuing Professional Development (CPD) whilst away on leave is also important.

  • Company cultures that value and promote diversity and inclusion

It is no longer enough for companies to just talk the talk of inclusion and diversity, but they must now walk the walk by implementing strategic plans to eliminate bias or discrimination in the workplace. Some ways companies do this is by creating an in house diversity and equality committee, who regularly asses and develop strategies for equal treatment and opportunity. Others provide training to increase a sense of awareness in diversity issues. Whatever method taken to implement these changes, if women felt that the finance industry was making a significant effort towards promoting equal opportunities, they’d be more likely to find that ‘working within a finance’ environment is more attractive.

  • Mentoring programmes

Mentoring is an invaluable tool that a company can utilise to help up-skill employees and provide great sources of motivation and ambition. As there are significantly less women in top FD and CFO positions, successful women who mentor junior roles can help eliminate any self-limiting beliefs that can hinder an individual aiming to reach senior levels. Should a woman have an example of success helping them grow, it is more likely that they would be able to follow in their steps and feel encouraged to pursue an impressive Accountancy career.