International Women’s Day is an annual celebration that serves as a reminder of the incredible contributions that women make to society. This day provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made and the challenges that women still face in different industries, including accountancy and finance. In the UK, women have been making strides in these fields, but there is still a long way to go to achieve gender parity.
Although the number of women working in financial services in the UK has grown steadily over the years and reached 43% of the workforce in 2019, there is still a significant lack of women in leadership, executive, and board positions. This is evident when we examine the statistics, which show that there is a vast gender imbalance in the top levels of financial services. For example, while women hold one-third of all board positions in the FTSE 100 companies, only 15% of finance directors in these companies are women. Additionally, there are still 44 all-male executive committees in the FTSE 350, which has not changed much since 2018. According to Catalyst, women held only 12% of CFO roles globally in 2018. In major financial services firms in the UK, women’s representation on executive committees was only 20% in 2019.
Addressing the pay gap
According to ONS data, there are a range of financial roles which include men being paid more an hour than women including Financial Account Managers (a pay gap of 18.8%), Chartered and Certified Accountants (a pay gap of 6.6%), Finance Professionals (a pay gap of 3.1%), and Finance Associate Professionals (a pay gap of 17.6%).
This gender disparity is not unique to finance and accountancy. In fact, it is a widespread issue that affects many industries. However, it is especially important to address this imbalance in finance and accountancy because of the critical role these professions play in the UK economy.
Finance and accountancy are vital industries that contribute to the country’s economic growth, job creation, and stability. By not fully utilising the talents and abilities of women in these industries, the UK is missing out on a significant source of innovation, creativity, and productivity. Furthermore, research has shown that gender-diverse companies tend to perform better financially, highlighting the need for greater gender balance in finance and accountancy.
The importance of empowering women
Encouraging more women to pursue careers in finance and accountancy is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to address the gender imbalance in these industries and promote diversity and inclusion. Secondly, it helps to tap into the talent and abilities of women, which can contribute to innovation, creativity, and productivity in these sectors. Finally, it helps to create more opportunities for women to achieve financial independence, which is essential for closing the gender pay gap and achieving gender equality.
What organisations can do
To encourage more women to pursue careers in finance and accountancy, organisations should provide various support and resources can be provided to help them progress in their careers. These include:
Furthering your career
Although the real responsibility is on the organisations and leaders in the industry to go about change, women in finance and accountancy can further their careers in the industry by taking the following steps:
So what can everyone else do to support women? Being an ally to women involved actively supporting and advocating for gender equality and recognising and challenging sexism, misogyny, and other forms of gender-based discrimination. Other ways to be an ally to women include listening, educating yourself, speaking up and challenging sexism, supporting women-led initiatives, and taking action to support gender quality in your personal and professional life.
In conclusion, International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made and the work that still needs to be done to achieve gender parity in finance and accountancy in the UK.
Celebrating this day is not only important for recognising the contributions of women in these industries but also for highlighting the need for greater gender diversity to promote innovation, creativity, and productivity in the UK economy. Let us all work together to create a more inclusive and equitable future for women everywhere.