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Promoting Inclusion in the Accounting and Business Sectors: A PathForward



In the constantly evolving world of business, diversity and inclusion (D&I) are no longer optional but a vital necessity. Good accounting firms have already started recognising this reality, as they see the immense potential and possibilities that diversity and inclusion bring to their operations. This is reflected in the fact that companies with diverse leadership teams report that nearly 45% of their revenue comes from innovation. Another found that employees who feel treated fairly are almost ten times more likely to look forward to their workdays and demonstrate greater pride in their work. The power of D&I is evident, positively impacting motivation, retention, and performance in firms.

Implementing Inclusive Practices Promoting inclusion is a holistic and ongoing effort that good accounting firms should integrate into every element of their organisation. This means that implementing inclusive practices is not just about making changes to the Human Resource (HR) systems once and forgetting about it. It is a continual process, requiring companies to create, execute and monitor strategies regularly to foster an inclusive recruitment process and HR approach.

Embracing Inclusion in Career Development The path towards an inclusive workplace is not just about hiring; it also involves nurturing employees' careers based on their skills, knowledge, ambition, and attitude. Leading accounting firms ensure managers receive training on equality, diversity, and inclusivity, helping them to treat all employees fairly. Further, the introduction of 'Dress for your day' policies enables employees to express themselves freely, fostering a comfortable and accepting environment.

Implementing Inclusive Hiring Practices Good accounting firms prioritise equal opportunity when recruiting, making hiring decisions solely based on candidates’ abilities to perform the job. This is assessed by evaluating their skills and competencies. They advertise job vacancies on open job boards rather than closed networks, ensuring equal access to opportunities. Interviews are evidence-based, with HR personnel involved in at least one stage, to ensure fairness, consistency, and inclusivity throughout the process.

Encouraging Employee Voice A significant aspect of promoting D&I is creating space for 'employee voice.' Good accounting firms strive to create an environment where feedback from every level is encouraged and heard. Methods such as regular employee surveys, a company culture and social club, and a well-being group are all effective ways of facilitating this. An innovative idea includes the introduction of a 'Thanks' section on the company's intranet, allowing anyone to express their appreciation for a team member's efforts.

Promoting Diversity in Recruitment

Good accounting firms value diversity of thought right from the recruitment stages. They aim to make the accounting industry as varied and accessible as possible by providing support to those considering a career in this field. This includes running apprenticeships and offering work placements, creating a more diverse and inclusive talent pool.

Sophie Austin, partner in HR at Monahans, described what her organisation is doing to promote diversity in recruitment: “We are keen to ensure that routes into the accountancy industry are as varied and accessible as possible. This includes improving education and awareness around the profession and providing support to those who are considering a career in accountancy. We engage with our local community, visiting schools and colleges to speak about what it’s like to be an accountant, working with students to refine their interview techniques and attending job fairs. We also run a comprehensive apprenticeship scheme and offer work experience and work placements to several individuals each year.”

Pursuing Ongoing Improvement Improving inclusivity should never be seen as a one-time project. It is a continual process, and good accounting firms understand this. They are always on the lookout for ways to enhance their hiring processes and employee offerings. An active involvement in schools and colleges, particularly those with disadvantaged groups, is one strategy they are keen to pursue.

Conclusion Promoting inclusion in the accounting and business sectors is a journey, not a destination. The path forward involves continuous efforts in implementing inclusive practices, nurturing employee development, encouraging diversity in recruitment, and, most importantly, listening to the voices of all employees. The fruits of these labours, as evidenced by the statistics, include a happier workforce, innovative business ideas, and, ultimately, more substantial business success. So, let's move forward on this path together to build a more inclusive and diverse business world.

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