Access Accountancy report to deliver diversity strategy

The report examines the socio-economic backgrounds of people who applied for jobs at 10 accountancy firms and organisations in 2018/19 and 2019/20

Access Accountancy has released a new report that benchmarks the background of accountancy sector recruits for the first time, in a move that is set to help build a future diversity strategy for the profession. 

The report examines the socio-economic backgrounds of people who applied for jobs at 10 accountancy firms and organisations in 2018/19 and 2019/20.

The charity decided to examine current recruitment practices in the industry, and the latest report marks the first time Access Accountancy has reported publicly on the backgrounds of people hired by firms.  

It said its member organisations will be held to account for hiring and progression in the future, following the publication of the report. The charity added that while its work experience programme had had a positive impact, it recognised “there was still more to do”.

The report found that in both 2018/19 and 2019/20, three-quarters of applicants for jobs with Access Accountancy organisations had attended state school; two in five had parents without degrees; and one in six had received or been eligible for income support or free school meals.

The research also highlighted that job offers were more likely to be made to people who identified as White, and to applicants whose families did not receive income support or free school meals.

Meanwhile, 45% of applicants were female and 55% male, compared to 51% and 49% of the population respectively. The report also found that 56% of hires were male. 

Member organisations have reportedly pledged to take on more people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and have made changes to the way that they assess applicants. For example, some firms have scrapped A-Level requirements for some roles and have introduced contextualised and strengths-based recruitment. 

Sharon Spice, Access Accountancy chair, said: “While this report shows there is still more to do to make accountancy truly reflective of the population, firms are already working hard in this area. 

“What is very encouraging is the impact students feel Access Accountancy work experience has on them when they are given the opportunity. We need to keep building on this with our current member organisations, but also by encouraging more organisations to get involved and ensure work experience placements translate into job opportunities.” 

She added: “We know that accountancy is a profession for everyone, and to shift the dial on social mobility we will do everything we can to support our Access Accountancy signatories, which includes sharing best practice so we can improve and do more. 

“A diverse workforce benefits everyone, so we’ll continue to challenge each other to collect and report data and use this to further improve hiring practices, so accountancy is accessible to all.”

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