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How to encourage female talent in finance and accounting

accounting, finance, diversity...

In recognition of International Women’s Day (8th March), we’re taking this opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements in Finance and Accounting, but also to reflect: why do we need a global day of recognition for women? 

While great strides have been made to level inequalities between men and women, disparities remain. In many organisations there have been great movements to address inequality and many women are in leadership positions, however, in many respects there is still unequal female representation in positions of seniority (and, conversely, in unpaid labour) and gender pay gaps do still exist. 

Gender representation and equity varies even by sector – it’s well documented that STEM industries face greater disparity of representation than many others, and this includes Finance and Accounting. Business leaders must seek to redress imbalances of gender diversity in finance and this begins with attraction, 
​development and retention strategies with a strong focus on addressing the gender pay gap.

Gender gap in finance and accounting

While there are fewer women working in Finance and Accounting across the board, this number drops dramatically when it comes to senior leaders and C-Suite executives, this is at least in part responsible for gender pay gaps in finance. There are issues in attracting women to the profession in the first place, however,much of the problem is in retaining women and promoting them to senior positions.

Obstacles to female leadership in finance and accounting 

There are several reasons there may be fewer women in positions of seniority within Finance and Accounting, including:

  • Family pressures: Women often struggle to get promoted in Finance and Accounting due to the pressures of maintaining flexibility between family, childcare, and work commitments. 

  • Unconscious bias: Hiring managers may hire in their own image unconsciously, as there are more men in leadership positions they naturally lean towards hiring more men rather than women.

  • Lack of female role models: Due to the aforementioned reasons, there are fewer women in leadership positions to look up to or gain mentorship from. 

How to support women in the workplace and achieve gender diversity in Finance and Accounting

To solve the problem of the under-representation of women in finance, and in particular within senior positions, additional work needs to be done to attract and retain female employees. This requires a combination of policies and proactive choices, for example:

  • Family-friendly policies: for example shared/gender-neutral parental leave, subsidised childcare 

  • Flexible working

  • Mentorships by and for women

  • Gender-balanced interview panels

  • Gender-balanced candidate shortlists

Importance of female retention in the workplace

Why is it important that we have women in finance in senior positions? In short, gender diversity within corporate settings both reflects and encourages gender parity elsewhere. If those at the top are homogeneous this means decisions will likely be made through a particularly narrow worldview lens. This is the case whether these choices are made consciously or – as is more likely – unconsciously. The impact is the same, irrespective of intention.

Studies have revealed that a greater proportion of women on boards positively impacts the financial health of the business, so the imperative for equality is not solely a moral one.

How can we help?

Engaging a recruiter trained in bias in hiring, including unconscious bias, can help you objectively recognise where in your recruitment strategy you may be creating barriers between your company and diverse applicants, from the job description to where and how you market your role.

At Edward Mann we can help you shape an inclusive recruitment strategy. Through our database and deep networks, we are able to source high-calibre temporary, interim or permanent candidates from diverse backgrounds who suit the specific needs of your business and contribute to creating an inclusive workplace. We also have the expertise to help you define your recruiting needs, advise on interviewing technique, source and assess candidates effectively and quickly to help you streamline your recruiting process.