Marking today’s global event for women, Helen Brand OBE, chief executive of ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) believes the pace of change must accelerate in order for the next generation of female leaders to fulfil their potential.
“Right now, ACCA has 455,000 students around the world studying hard to become professional accountants. Currently 54% of them are female, a percentage that is growing year-on-year. That makes almost a quarter of a million motivated, ambitious young women looking to embark on a career in business. It is so important that we do everything in our power to ensure the path to the top is clear and open to every one of them should they wish to take it.”
Along with backing International Women’s Day, ACCA is promoting the role of women in business through a new award for businesswomen in the Middle East.
“Earlier this year, we launched the new Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Women in Finance Award in collaboration with Naseba, to honour the contributions made by women finance professionals to successful businesses in the region. Thousands of future female leaders around the world are on the way to achieving their dreams through the ACCA qualification. It is in the interests of all of us that they are given every chance to develop and progress as far as they are able.”
According to Helen Brand, there are three key areas of focus when it comes to clearing the path for women in business.
“We must all work to ensure the path to leadership is clear by making career opportunities more visible to women. From the moment a woman begins her working life, she should be given every chance to develop and progress as far as she wishes.
“We must speed up culture change with progressive corporate policy where we can. We have already seen headway made in areas such as flexible working and shared parental leave but the playing field is still nowhere near level. It is important we create a corporate culture where women, and men, can make the most of these initiatives without fear it will harm their career prospects in the future.
“And perhaps most importantly of all, we must build supportive environments and work to eliminate conscious and unconscious bias right across the corporate structure. It won’t happen overnight, but if we work together, as equals, we can change mindsets and in doing so, accelerate the pace of change.”
This year International Women’s Day is themed Pledge For Parity and will highlight the plight for women’s empowerment, greater equality and women’s human rights.