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ACCA chief calls for improved diversity

11/09/13

The financial services sector needs to do more to push women to the top tier of businesses, according to recent comments made by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) global chief executive, Helen Brand.

Ms Brand made her comments at a recent conference for women working in the industry held in Lagos, Nigeria. She stressed that this issue is not confined to one specific country or continent, but an international problem that requires cross-border collaboration and wide-ranging cultural change.

However, the ACCA head also pointed out that thinking around the issue of diversity should not become mired in gender - "there is diversity of cultures, diversity of skills and experiences, diversity of ideas and business perspectives that help create and drive great finance functions", she explained.

Fundamentally, broadening the range of potential candidates for accounting jobs and allowing a wide range of views and backgrounds into the workforce tends to have a positive impact on a firm's bottom line, something Ms Brand was keen to stress in her keynote speech.

"Quite simply, diversity is a critical component of capability. You want to employ the best people in finance and the best people simply are not defined along some set of homogeneous criteria," she declared.

ACCA does not support the concept of quotas, despite the EU's ongoing efforts to introduce these into the UK finance world. This kind of move can be seen as tokenistic and simply lead to box-ticking rather than long-lasting, deep-seated change within the sector, warned Ms Brand.

She noted that since the Davies report came out more than two years ago, with the stated aim of achieving a 25 per cent figure of women in FTSE boardrooms, nearly half of new appointments to senior positions have been female.

The Prudential Regulation Authority recently suggested that the EU's efforts to drive up diversity in the financial services sector could see a mandatory quota system introduced within the next few years.

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