DE&I now a driving factor for talent retention in PHL

IMA®  (Institute of Management Accountants) and IFAC (International Federation of Accountants) recently released the report, “Diversifying Asia-Pacific Accounting Talent: A Critical Imperative to Achieve Transformational Outcomes.” The report focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) issues in the accounting profession across the Asia-Pacific region and presents remedies to the gaps identified.

The report 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. The survey identified 95% of the respondents as current or former accounting profession members in Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, and Japan.

The regional DE&I research focuses on two primary demographic areas: gender and ethnicity. 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 study found that inequities and exclusive behaviors in the profession are the main reason for the underrepresentation of diverse talent at senior levels. The data also revealed disparities throughout countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The Philippines had the highest percentage of respondents viewing the profession as equitable (91%) and inclusive (90%). Amongst 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%).

While most female respondents in the Philippines have the same perception of  equity and inclusion of the accounting profession as their male counterparts, they also emphasized the underrepresentation of women in senior leadership roles.

Key highlights show that:

  • 49% of female respondents reported that leaders demonstrate unfair prejudice or bias against women that negatively affects promotion.
  • 46% highlighted the lack of consistent fair treatment in the recruitment process.
  • 44% pointed to greater emphasis on recruitment of women than on retention.
  • 41% observed a lack of consistently provided objective performance feedback.
  • 64% of female respondents reported they work much harder than their male counterparts to gain comparable recognition.

“Social and cultural influences have significant impacts on accounting in the Asia-Pacific region just as they affect the workplace. As some of the countries in our sample are dominated by a single race (such as Japan), data on minority ethnic groups come primarily from Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore. Respondents who identified as members of minority ethnic groups from these countries pointed to firsthand experiences of inequitable and exclusive treatment negatively affecting their advancement in the workplace. Hence, it is important for businesses and the profession to implement focused efforts to close the diversity gap and attract and retain talent. Our research revealed these efforts are integral to our profession surviving, transforming, and thriving.” said Josh Heniro, Senior Director, IMA Southeast Asia & Australasia.

Filipino respondents from minority ethnic groups share that there is an inadequate representation of minority ethnic groups in senior leadership roles with half of them noting that they have left a company due to a lack of equitable treatment of inclusion.

“The underrepresentation of minority ethnic groups in leadership positions is not due to a lack of talent, but rather unequal treatment rooted in biases against already marginalized 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.”

View the full report below: