The group came about after Elaine Clark, chartered accountant and managing director of CheapAccounting.co.uk, highlighted a dearth of female speakers at the first Accountex Summit North at Manchester Central in March.
Such was the strength of feeling that Elaine, after a conversation with event director Zoe Lacey-Cooper, agreed to host a round table event aimed at women in the profession.
The number of female speakers
Women in Accountancy took off soon after that popular session, with a LinkedIn group and a page on Accountex’s Accounting Insight News content platform. And it’s probably no coincidence that, following the round table, the number of female speakers at Accountex (at London’s ExCeL next week) went up from 18 to 44.
Clark says: “It showed that women were fed up with being under-represented at trade events and wanted more female speakers and topics aimed at them.”
WomenInAccountancy.com is kicking off with a survey of women’s experiences of the accountancy profession. Questions include: “Have you ever encountered sexist or misogynistic behaviour in the accountancy profession?” and, “Do you feel your professional accountancy body portrays and supports gender equality?” Take part in the Survey here .
There is also an opportunity for women to feature on the site or contribute articles.
Women in Accountancy want a loud and proud voice
Clark adds: “Women want a loud and proud voice in the accountancy profession and at events like Accountex; they shouldn’t have to beg or fight for this. It should be an absolute given that gender equality is reflected in the speaker mix at such important events in the accounting calendar.
“While speaker gender inequality has inspired the launch of Women in Accountancy, the movement – if I can call it that – is about so much more. It’s about promoting women in accountancy and removing any unnecessary barriers to gender inequality.
“One of the first campaigns that we’re launching will be a call to address the huge gender pay gap that exists in accounting.
“The recent Accountancy Age survey revealed a 22 per cent gender pay gap – well above the national average. Are men in accountancy really worth on average nearly £13k a year more than women?
They should set the standard
“I think the gender pay gap is something that the professional bodies and every head of the top accountancy firms should take specific and personal ownership of to drive it out. They should set the standard for equal pay.
“The spotlight should be put on such a group to drive out the pay gap over the next five years at an absolute maximum and much sooner if possible. We’ve got to encourage women to both enter and stay in the profession. I don’t want to have to start protests and tie myself to a lamppost … but I will do so if necessary!
“It’s time that gender equality in accounting was the norm. It’s time for misogynistic behaviour to be outed for exactly what it is; a form of bullying. I’ve experienced it throughout my career, and continue to have to put up with it on social media where people can hide behind a virtual network platform.”