Associate feature: Encouraging diversity in accounting

Written by Craig Vickery, ACCA Scotland on 27 February 2018 in Comment

Finance professionals come from all backgrounds and social mobility is transforming the talent pool

Craig Vickery, Head of ACCA Scotland - Image credit: ACCA Scotland

How does Scottish business build our trade, develop talent, embrace technology and improve productivity? How do we develop the skills we need for 2020 and beyond?

It starts with our people. Good finance professionals from all backgrounds, driving value, at the heart of business.  

Based upon global research ACCA are currently introducing enhancements to our qualification to ensure ACCA members are trained in a broad range of skills from technical and ethical to emotional intelligence and vision. 

But we need to ensure that we have the right blend of highly skilled people too. ACCA continues to work to encourage those from all backgrounds into the profession.

In a recent report we concluded that the accountancy profession should identify more proactive approaches to continue to improve social mobility and attract and support a diverse global talent pool through their careers.

In ‘Purpose and the profession’, a global survey of 13,635 members and students (52 per cent from backgrounds where neither parent had gone to university), ACCA found that social mobility is transforming the potential talent pool for professional accountants. 

There are two great areas for optimism around social mobility.

The first is that improving social and economic development continues to provide opportunity for an increasingly diverse talent pool, with the demonstrable benefits that brings. 

The second is that accountancy remains an aspirational and accessible route to social mobility for many.

The report highlights that the decision to pursue an accountancy career is too dependent on individuals’ and parents’ drive.

Globally, only 13 per cent of those surveyed were influenced by a teacher or careers adviser.

The perception that ’this is not for me’ is a dangerous stigma to be attached to a profession. Whilst no longer true, many still see the profession as middle aged, white and male. 

Put simply, the profession as a whole must work harder to engage young people with the opportunities and rewards it offers, and instil confidence that it welcomes a variety of backgrounds and academic levels.

Craig Vickery is the the head of ACCA Scotland.

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