How the workplace is changing for female and millennial accountants
Accountancy workplaces are now very different to what they were 50, even 25 years ago. And as women and millennials continue to flood into the profession, today we have a […]
Accountancy workplaces are now very different to what they were 50, even 25 years ago. And as women and millennials continue to flood into the profession, today we have a look at the changes they’ve brought with them, and how they might continue to influence the profession going forward.
Comparing the experiences of women entering the workplace now versus decades ago can tell us a lot about the ways in which the industry has changed, while also making clear the universal issues that continue to plague female accountants today.
Not too long ago it was common for women to be asked, during a job interview, whether they planned to have children. They would be judged accordingly and often lose out on job opportunities because of this, whereas now such practice is distinctly frowned upon. Indeed today, many accountants who do become mothers are fully supported by their employers, and are now able to adopt flexible maternity and return-to-work policies. While in some cases it is still not perfect, it seems that the industry on the whole is adapting well to the rise of women and mothers in the workplace.
Older female accountants will also recall a time where they were not permitted to wear trousers to work, which seems almost unimaginable now, yet as recently as 2015 PwC sent a female employee home for not wearing heels. While some progress has been made in this area, many women still appear to be severely judged on the way they look, and it may be several more years before this is righted.
The issue of gender pay parity is also still ongoing. While it’s fantastic to see more women being hired to more senior roles within accountancy, there still seems to be a 22% gender pay gap across the profession, which is higher than the national average. Now companies are forced to report on their pay gaps, perhaps more action will arise from it, but this is one issue that has been dragging on for far too long. And perhaps it is one contributing factor as to why we’re seeing more women start up their own businesses? One to keep an eye on.
Perhaps what millennials are known for most is their embracing of new technology. And while many in this generation are the forerunners of new apps and other technologies to simplify traditional processes, the other major mindset shift for this generation seems to be around autonomy and flexibility.
One common response to workplace questionnaires from this group is a desire to see greater flexible working options (including home working) and individual responsibility, which perhaps manifests itself in the thousands of millennials who start their own businesses each year. Driven by this generation, businesses are now becoming increasingly more responsive to flexible working practices generally, which many might have never dreamed of 20 years ago.
Personal development and skills acquisition in the workplace is also important to millennials, perhaps as part of their long-term desire to begin their own business or achieve sufficient career gratification. There is a strong drive among this generation to climb the corporate ladder and achieve success based on merit. Indeed, more open fairness in job progression has crept in to business practice over the last 10 years, and we expect firms to continue to be more meritocratic than ever in their search to find the very best talent to lead their businesses forward.
As we say to all our students – you are the shapers of the world. In 20, 30, 40 years you will be leading it, and it’s up to you what you want it to look like. If you want to see more fairness, flexibility and efficiency in your firm, then you can be a driver of it. We can’t wait to see what exciting changes you’ll bring about.