Expanding economies, technological advances and globalisation are increasing social mobility, but the accountancy profession has a key role to play in opening up access to those opportunities through a proactive and leadership based approach, according to a survey from the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA).
The report Purpose and the profession surveyed 13,635 members and students globally, looking at whether the profession is becoming more widely available to people of various backgrounds. The report explained mobility is determined by living standards, as well as the parents’ education, class or income. The survey results found that 52% came from backgrounds where neither parent nor guardian had gone to university.
Only 13% of global respondent were influenced to start a career in accountancy by school or university or a careers advisor. The report stated that improving access to opportunities regardless of background should be a government and business priority. This is partially because a diverse workforce is better equipped for decision making, client relatability and global collaboration.
ACCA director of professional insights Maggie McGhee said: “The perception that ’this is not for me’ is a dangerous stigma to be attached to a profession. Many still see the profession as middle aged, white and male. While this is no longer true, it is likely that only those with prior knowledge or social capital will appreciate the diversity of the profession and flexibility of access.”
The report recommended; removing barriers through flexible learning routes and removing recruitment bias, improve awareness of the profession at younger levels, focus on new skills and continued learning, data collection on diversity and using results to drive forward change, break down closed professional networks into more social networks, and engage with social policy on a national level.
The report explained that professional accountancy firms and professional bodies can actively engage and advocate with policymakers across many different spheres, from education to planning ministries, digital to finance and national statistics offices. Additionally, professional bodies can use their resources, knowledge and networks to make financial management and accountancy training available and accessible to less urban areas.
McGhee added: “We cannot rest on our laurels in a fast-changing world. The profession as a whole must demonstrate leadership on this issue to continue to widen the talent-pool and ensure business is led by the very best, regardless of social background.”