Clearly the pipeline of motivated, ambitious young women looking to embark on a career in business has never been healthier. This is why it is so important that we do everything in our power to ensure the path to the top is clear and open to every one of them.
On Tuesday 8 March, International Women’s Day showcases many wonderful examples of the work done around the world to encourage greater diversity. However there is still much more to be done. Women still only represent 22% of corporate leaders globally. A report released just last week found that the basic salary of a female accountant is just 83% of that awarded to a man.
Those statistics make for hard reading. Not just to me as a female leader myself, but because research consistently shows that diversity is great for business as a whole. It is in the interests of all of us to close the gender pay gap and get more women into positions of leadership.
According to Helen Brand, it is her ambition that by the time this next generation ACCA students are all qualified, the inequality these statistics show will be a thing of the past.
“We must all work to ensure the path to leadership is clear by making career opportunities more visible to women. From the moment a woman begins her working life, she should be given every chance to develop and progress as far as she is able – and wishes to – throughout her career.”
“We must speed up culture change with progressive corporate policy where we can. We have already seen headway made in areas such as flexible working and shared parental leave but the playing field is still nowhere near level. It is important we create a corporate culture where women, and men, can make the most of these initiatives without fear it will harm their career prospects in the future.”
“And perhaps most importantly of all, we must build supportive environments and work to eliminate conscious and unconscious bias right across the corporate structure. It won’t happen overnight, but if we work together, as equals, we can change mindsets and in doing so, accelerate the pace of change.”
Right now, ACCA has 455,000 students around the world studying hard to become professional accountants. Currently 54% of them are female, a percentage that is growing year-on-year. Ahead of International Women’s Day, ACCA chief executive Helen Brand OBE has called for action to ‘clear the path’ for these almost 250,000 young women.