The Diversity gap at senior levels in Asia’s accounting field is a result of inequities and exclusive behaviours, said Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) recently when releasing a joint survey report.
The report “Diversifying Asia-Pacific Accounting Talent: A Critical Imperative to Achieve Transformational Outcomes.” includes findings from a late-2021 online survey of more than 1,100 current and former Asia Pacific accounting professionals and interviews of 32 accounting practitioners and academics who vary in experience level, country, gender, ethnicity, and age, IMA noted.
The survey identified 95% of the respondents as current or former accounting profession members in Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, and Japan, IMA said.
The regional research on diversity gap focuses on two primary demographic areas: gender and ethnicity, the organisation pointed out.
In the report, 47% of the respondents identify as female; data on minority ethnic groups were primarily taken from Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Australia, where 44% of respondents self-identified as a member of an ethnic minority group.
- The data revealed disparities throughout countries in Asia Pacific. For instance, the Philippines had the highest percentage of respondents viewing the profession as equitable (91%) and inclusive (90%).
- Among the Southeast Asian countries included in the report, Indonesia is ranked second at 82% and 81%, followed by Singapore (78% and 80%) and Vietnam (73% and 77%).
- Interviewees also indicated that despite previous initiatives to attract, retain, and promote the next generation of professional leadership, these efforts have not brought adequate results.
- The status quo is unlikely to contribute to closing the diversity gap at senior levels. Organisations and the profession are already on transformation journeys to meet environmental, societal, and business demands.
- Expansive targeted efforts are required to achieve the transformational outcomes needed.
"The diversity gap at senior levels is not due to a lack of talent, but rather unequal treatment rooted in biases against already marginalised groups,” said IFAC CFO Russell Guthrie. “It is up to professional accountants to leverage the solutions suggested in this report to remedy existing DE&I gaps and therefore ensure the longevity of our profession and its success.”
Singapore: Unfair prejudice against women and ethnic minorities in accounting
When it comes to the accountancy sector in Singapore, 34% of women and 54% of minority ethnic groups pointed to leaders demonstrating unfair prejudice or bias against women/minority ethnic groups that negatively affect promotion, the report indicates.
The report also indicates the following findings that need the attention of organisations that employ accounting professionals in the country.
- 42% of women and 46% of minority ethnic groups cited a greater emphasis on recruitment than on retention
- Women and the ethnic minority said that they have experienced the following behaviours that they perceived were rooted in bias:
- Negative feedback about their communication style - Women (61%); Minority ethnic groups (75%)
- Not given recognition for contributions - Women (53%); Minority ethnic groups (76%)
- 76% of respondents from the minority ethnic groups indicated that they were not promoted to a position that they were qualified for or given additional responsibility for which they demonstrated preparedness.