Being a woman and parent is a double whammy when it comes to a career in accountancy

'Having equality policies in place isn’t enough,' says Sinéad Donovan of Chartered Accountants Ireland

Samantha McCaughren

Being both a woman and a parent is the greatest barrier to career progression in the accountancy professions, according to new research published by Chartered Accountants Ireland.

Carried out under the auspices of Chartered Accountants Worldwide, the global research included 700 Irish respondents.

Some eight in 10 feel women feel they have a lot to offer the profession and the survey found no obvious initial barriers to entry for women. That ambition doesn’t reduce with parenthood.

But differences emerge at mid-career when accountants are asked about issues such as access to opportunities, gender bias and lack of diversity, childcare obligations, and flexible work. Compared with men at the same career stage, women were more than twice as likely to cite these factors as barriers to their progression, despite equal motivation to move into senior roles.

Sinéad Donovan, the incoming president of Chartered Accountants Ireland, and the chair of Grant Thornton Ireland said: “It’s clear from the findings that having equality policies in place isn’t enough, the attitudes and behaviours of those in senior positions dictate whether they actually have any impact.

“Three in four mid-career women cite a supportive line manager as having the biggest impact on their career progression and 67pc would love a mentor to support them.

"Having been in that position earlier in my career, I recognise the barriers, and I also recognise that putting the head down and living with the status quo, like I did in many ways, isn’t an option,” she added.