Its 2019, and women are no longer a rarity in the tax industry. While a long overdue advance, it’s one we can all celebrate. The world has moved on and we have seen an increase of women forming part of, excelling in, and transforming the financial sector.
Yet while there has been progress, there is still a long way to go. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission finds that almost half of women (46%) in the financial sector work in admin and secretarial roles, compared to 17% of men. Over a third (35%) of men have managerial roles, compared to fewer than one in five (18%) of women.
For women that want a career in HR and Admin, finance is a fantastic place for it. But this should not be the only route open. Nor should managerial positions be so overpopulated by men. These statistics attest to the reality that female leaders in finance are woefully few. Men still dominate the upper echelons of financial institutions, even when their workforces are relatively balanced between genders.
This must change. It does not need saying that there are countless women who are immensely capable and have the potential to lead teams and institutions with excellence. But levelling the playing field in finance isn’t just about women fulfilling their potential. It isn’t even just about what women could bring to their individual organisations, or addressing workplace inequality. Research produced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) finds that narrowing the gender gap would foster greater stability in the banking system and enhance economic growth. The IMF also suggests that a more equal balance between men and woman could lead to more effective policy, both monetary and fiscal.
Reasons abound, and yet relatively few women reach the top. It’s clear that more needs to be done. A number of initiatives, like Women in Tax, go some way to making a difference. Women in Tax provides a supportive space that connects those working in tax, helps to raise visibility of their skills, efforts, and experience, and is a vital arena for networking and mutual support. Communities like this that encourage support, excellence, and leadership are key. But initiatives must be top-down too. Those in senior positions in financial organisations are responsible for creating the cultures that can lead to change in the industry.
Accordance VAT’s Managing Director Lucy Franklin has a clear vision about gender parity in the workplace. At Accordance, 59% of line managers are female, as are 40% of the Senior Management Team. Our statistics stand in defiance of the industry norm, but this doesn’t mean we rest on our laurels. The vision for Accordance is an organisation in which everyone is supported to achieve their best. Building on Lucy’s vision, we are creating the culture for a company in which each and every member of staff is enabled to fulfil the role that make the most of their skills, interests and capabilities. This means investing in coaching, mentoring and job-shadowing. It means listening to the diverse voices in our organisation and developing talent to the full. It means making sure we are world leaders in gender parity and workplace equality. It means, quite simply, putting our people at the heart of our business.