Diversity in business: part II

3 October 2016

Equality and diversity in the workplace is not just a matter of good corporate citizenship, it is also good business sense. One of the key challenges for all businesses is promoting mobility within the workforce and recruiting from all backgrounds to create a representative workforce that can be trusted.

Gender equality is a term that is well known, yet the gap between good intentions and real action remains uncomfortably large. Businesses need to reflect on how they create and encourage environments that support career development for women and men, including raising aspirations and dealing with practical ‘caring’ issues that disproportionally affect women. We need solutions that highlight the benefits for employers, generate change, and create incentives for women to remain in, and return to business. Cultural change will take time, but greater recognition of the added value women bring to businesses is crucial in helping women realise their potential and changing workplace culture.

Recognising and accepting that barriers and bias genuinely exist in recruitment and beyond is an important first step. The accountancy profession is at the forefront of diversity and equality initiatives with a number of organisations already reviewing how they engage with schools and universities to widen entry routes, identify talent pipeline and make recruitment decisions to guard against adverse impacts of unconscious bias.

Here at ICAEW we are committed to taking the very best practice from our member firms and spreading this across the profession. As chartered accountants, we are used to measuring success and failures. Gender gaps should not be exempt, and to make a real, measurable, and sustainable difference to gender equality we must learn from each other’s practices and innovations. Only then will we be able to assess how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go.

Sharron Gunn, Executive Director, Members, Commercial & Shared Services at ICAEW

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