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ICAEW celebrates gender diversity progress

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 03 Nov 2023

Most recent submission to the Women in Finance Charter shows that women hold 54.6% of senior roles at ICAEW.

Ongoing efforts by ICAEW to tackle gender equality at all levels within its own organisation are paying dividends after new analysis shows that women currently hold 54.6% of ICAEW’s senior roles, up from 33.3% in 2017.

The boost in female representation at senior levels across ICAEW highlights the success of initiatives in place over the past few years and exceeds the targets set by ICAEW when it became a signatory to the Women in Finance Charter in 2017. 

Launched by HM Treasury in 2016, signatories commit to supporting the progression of women into senior roles by setting targets and by publicly reporting their progress. ICAEW initially committed to 40% of senior management being women by March 2020, a target that was exceeded in 2019. 

ICAEW’s most recent submission to the Women in Finance Charter shows that in 2023, women hold 54.6% of ICAEW’s senior roles, compared with 33.3% female representation six years ago. ICAEW’s gender pay gap has also decreased for the past two years, by a significant 8%.

The charter reflects the government’s aspiration to see gender balance at all levels across financial services firms and a recognition that a balanced workforce is good for business – it has a positive impact on profitability and workplace culture, and is increasingly attractive for investors. 

The charter welcomed 11 new signatories in its most recent cohort, bringing the total to more than 400 organisations. Signatories set their own targets and strategies and commit to publicly report on progress annually to deliver against these internal targets to support the transparency and accountability needed to drive change. 

Diversity in all its forms has been identified as one of ICAEW’s strategic pillars and ICAEW has for many years provided support aimed specifically at boosting female representation, not just within ICAEW but more broadly across the accountancy profession.

ICAEW’s Women in Finance community launched in 2006 provides a platform for women across the sector to share their experiences and to support members with personal development. Each year ICAEW hosts events that bring the network together and showcase keynote speakers, and annually celebrates the contributions of women to the sector on International Women’s Day.

In 2011, ICAEW launched its Women in Leadership training programme. A global leadership programme for women working across practice, industry and public sectors in senior management, partner or board roles, it offers support and helps them to bring their own leadership style to the fore. While mainly targeted at members, a few places are also offered to female ICAEW employees in leadership roles.

Meanwhile, ICAEW’s Aspire programme – a week-long residential leadership course, followed up with coaching – will resume in 2024. The programme offers structured learning as part of ICAEW succession planning, to aid with narrowing the gender pay gap and monitor the promotion and progression of programme graduates who are ICAEW employees.

More recently, ICAEW has introduced new policies to ensure the impact of women’s health issues are minimised at critical mid-career stages. It continues to prioritise flexible working regulations that enable employees to combine work and family responsibilities more easily, importantly acknowledging the disproportionate impact caring responsibilities, including childcare, have on women in the workplace. 

The recently launched Elevate programme has been designed to support ICAEW’s succession plan, develop a high-performance culture across the organisation and provide senior leadership with a programme of exceptional development activities. 

This includes workshops across areas such as chairing meetings, stakeholder engagement, credibility and impact, and strategic planning, plus a two-day offsite workshop on inclusive leadership, along with executive coaching, peer learning groups, feedback and shadowing C-suite and managing directors. Just under half of the 46 participants currently participating in Elevate are women, in line with ICAEW’s commitment under the Women in Finance charter.

Yelena Travis-Powell, Head of Global Equality, Equity & Belonging at ICAEW, says: “We continue to support our talent across differing levels of responsibility as part of succession planning, by offering a broad range of training, coaching and mentoring opportunities, as well as increasing workplace exposure through secondments.”

“Furthermore, we continue to build an ever-more inclusive organisational culture where employees can thrive irrespective of their background or characteristics. We run several employee resource groups that raise awareness of and push for progress on specific topics, for example, challenges during the menopause and other women’s health issues. 

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