DEI culture plays strong role in job choices for accountants, survey finds

In a survey of finance professionals in North America, 71% said a strong diversity and inclusion culture is a key factor in deciding whether to work at an organization, according to a Feb. 7 report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

As the talent crunch continues, more than half of respondents also said they expect the next move in their career to be external to their current employer.

“The shortage of talent and the many job opportunities available to professional accountants mean that attracting and retaining talent presents a huge ongoing challenge for employers,” Jillian Couse, head of ACCA North America, said in a statement.

“With 71% of North American respondents saying that a strong diversity and inclusivity culture is a key factor in choosing an employer, there’s a real opportunity for employers who are strong in this area to differentiate themselves in a competitive market,” she said.

The ACCA surveyed nearly 10,000 professional accountants from 157 countries, finding that economic constraints continue to influence talent attraction and retention. About 58% of respondents said they’ll ask their employer for a pay increase in 2024, although 50% believe they’ll have to leave their organization to receive one.

Mental health is a challenge as well, with 49% of North American respondents saying their mental health suffers due to work pressures. More than a third said they feel their employer doesn’t consider mental health to be a priority.

Hybrid arrangements remain important, although gaps exist between what employees want and what employers require. Globally, 76% of employees said a hybrid schedule is their preferred arrangement, even though many employers insist on entirely in-person work. In North America, more than two-thirds of employees said they prefer a hybrid arrangement, and 58% have one.

Overall, 53% of U.S. workers say a company’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives play a major role in their decision about where to work, according to an Eagle Hill Consulting report from September. However, only 29% said their current employer has taken additional action to show a commitment to DEI in the past six months.

In addition, Glassdoor data released in November shows that less than half of U.S. employees work somewhere with DEI programming, and that number could be dropping. The largest declines were noted among the legal, IT and finance industries.

Employers are facing more pushback to DEI initiatives, but more than half say they’ve expanded their commitments to DEI during the past year, according to a Littler report. However, there appears to be a lack of alignment across the C-suite, which could suggest an opportunity for increased communication, reduced legal risk and better DEI program implementation.