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October 19, 2021

OVERVIEW

The survey found that 40% of accountants from a minority race/ethnicity background reported career development and progression to be challenging before the pandemic and after it started, citing reasons such as increases in work hours and responsibilities. Concerning gender, 54% of women reported increased work hours compared to 43% of men, and 35% of women compared to 29% of men had increased work responsibilities without additional compensation. That being said, a higher percentage of female accountants reported receiving a pandemic bonus and promotion to a senior role, 36% and 12%, respectively.

"By any measure, COVID-19 has had devastating impacts on working professionals across all verticals, and the tax profession was no exception. The effects of the pandemic on underrepresented groups ––including people of color and women –are critical for us to understand better as we move forward as an industry. This study has given us a glimpse into the experiences of marginalized groups within the tax community, providing leaders with essential steps for elevating our peers as the pandemic wears on and well into the future.” Elizabeth Beastrom, President of Tax & Accounting Professionals, Thomson Reuters

KEY FINDINGS

Increased Hours Without Increased Pay

  • A majority of accountants of color (54%) reported increased work hours compared to 46% of their white peers, and 41% of accountants of color took on more responsibility without additional pay compared to 30% of mostly white accountants.
  • 47% and 28%, respectively, of accountants identified as an ethnic minority, shared that Black Lives Matter and racial injustice adversely impacted their career development and progression. In contrast, less than 10% of mostly White accountants felt these scenarios negatively impacted their ability to develop and progress in their careers.  
  • Compared to their White peers, a higher percentage of Black and Latinx tax and accounting professionals indicated receiving a pandemic bonus, promotion to a senior role, and starting a role in a new organization at 37%, 24%, and 19%, respectively.

Women’s Wellbeing and Pandemic Aftershock in the Workforce

  • The impact on women’s wellbeing reverted, with 56% of women versus 45% reported that the pandemic had at least a slightly negative effect on their health and wellbeing. 72% of women (versus 54% of men) reported this was mostly due to increased stress levels in and outside of the workplace.
  • A higher percentage of female accountants reported receiving a pandemic bonus and promotion to a senior role, 36% and 12%, respectively.

More Than Just Talking the Talk; Walking the Walk concerning DEI Efforts

  • The top DEI investments that tax and accounting employers were making pre-pandemic were 1) leaders embracing diversity initiatives, 2) manager reviews, 3) unconscious bias training, and 4) equal/gender-neutral parental leave. However, these don’t address the need for increased representation of accountants from underrepresented race/ethnicity and gender perspectives at senior levels.  
  • Few tax and accounting firms are investing in the items that specifically target improving representation in senior roles. Indeed, diversity leads reported that only 23% and 18%, respectively, of their employers, were investing in formal sponsorship and work assignment monitoring.  

In addition to these findings, survey respondents noted frequent discrepancies between what organizations said about diversity and inclusion and what they actually did to adequately and evenly represent employees of all genders and ethnic backgrounds. This point becomes critical as the industry presses forward, putting ongoing and effective DEI programs into place and actively moving underrepresented tax professionals through the ranks and into senior leadership roles.

“Current concern regarding talent retention and acquisition is motivating accounting firms to seek highly qualified talent from underrepresented communities in new and creative places. The survey data provides proof of the inequality within the workforce. We’re hopeful that these findings support critical DEI efforts and encourage PrimeGlobal firms and leaders in the profession to work toward sweeping changes that better represent the breadth of talent available in the accounting industry.” Michelle Arnold, Executive Director, PrimeGlobal

METHODOLOGY

More than 300 tax and accounting professionals were surveyed from various countries and backgrounds in June 2021 to gain insights into how COVID-19 affected diversity and inclusion efforts and those in diversity lead roles and the impacts of the pandemic on individuals in underrepresented groups, including gender and ethnicity.

Accensis is  a member of Prime Global, one of the 5 largest associations of independent accounting firms in the world, comprised of approximately 300 highly successful independent public accounting firms in over 80 countries.