A survey by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has highlighted that even though the accounting and finance profession is broadly inclusive, it still suffers from diversity issues and needs more work to ensure equitability. Out of almost 10,000 practitioners around the world, 73 percent believe the profession is inclusive, and 78 percent believe it is open to all—but 63 percent think the profession has a diversity issue that needs to be addressed.
Part of the issue may be organizational in nature, as the survey also found that in 59 percent of organizations, there are at least some challenges to accepting people from diverse backgrounds. 54 percent of organizations do not consider diversity and inclusion policies relevant on a day-to-day basis or do not even have them. In 48 percent of organizations, opportunities to succeed are not equal. Furthermore, 39 percent of respondents said that their working environment was not free from harassment and discrimination.
Another part of the issue may also be that people do not quite know how to identify or address problems. 54 percent of respondents said they had at best partial knowledge of the steps they could take in the workplace to promote diversity and inclusion. The survey report also included a list of suggested practices for teams and leaders to adopt: covering policy and compliance, culture and fair treatment, accountability of leadership, and measurement.
However, ACCA's report also notes that the definition of diversity and inclusion covers a very broad spectrum across different parts of the world, and the practices an organization finally implements will necessarily have to be aligned with cultural and societal norms. In the Asia Pacific, for example, there is a greater focus on gender diversity and the role of women; in some African countries age diversity looks at bringing younger people into the workplace, while in Western Europe and Australia it is about keeping older people employed; in North America there is a very strong focus on ethnic diversity.