Historically, and most notably during the mid-19th century, men were depicted as the providers who went to work and provided for their families, whereas women were seen as housewives and were expected to work domestically. According to the 1911 census, domestic service was the most predominant role of women held. Now in 2020, the role of women has changed drastically and there are far more opportunities for women to succeed especially in different fields of employment. Although there is always more work to be done, tangible progress continues to be made in this area.
Today, there are numerous companies who are striving to empower women and offer them equality throughout the workplace. For example, the multinational telecommunications company Vodafone states on their website: “We employ over 36,500 women directly and provide employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands more across our global supplier base”. Additionally, Deloitte is another company that is striving for gender equality, amongst others of course.
Deloitte have been distinguished and recognised as one of the top 50 employers for women in the UK and they have also been bestowed the ‘Gender Equality Game Changer’ award. This is just an example of companies that are making tangible changes to their workforce and are continually pushing for gender equality and female empowerment.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is a global professional accounting body that is also very much supporting female empowerment and gender equality. This statement is demonstrated by the fact that the former ACCA president, Leo Lee, previously stated that, “For over a century, ACCA has been shaped and led by many pioneering women, and gender equality remains at the top of the agenda”. According to Lee, 46% of the ACCA membership is female and 56% of the ACCA students are female. These are astonishing numbers and it shows just how much women are interested in the ACCA and also how inclusive and accepting the ACCA are of women.
In 2019, the ACCA partnered with the Women Economic Empowerment Network (WEEN) during their 2019 summit in Multan. The goal of the summit was to bring female entrepreneurs together and allow them to network and share knowledge. At the summit, ACCA member Khawaja Mohsin delivered a presentation about driving female entrepreneurship in Pakistan. In the presentation, Khawaja Mohsin also explained how the ACCA is helping women in finance reach their goals in the sector.
The ACCA is in many ways revolutionary due to the fact that in 1909 it became the first accounting body to accept female workers in the UK. Ethel Purdie became the first female to be accepted into the ACCA and was also the first woman to be admitted into any accounting body in the UK. She undoubtedly paved the way for many other women to take up roles within the accountancy profession and ought to therefore be remembered and celebrated. This pivotal moment in history shows how the ACCA has always advocated female empowerment. This proved to be especially groundbreaking during a time period when there was not much scope for female roles outside of the domestic environment.
Finally, another key progressive accomplishment that the ACCA has achieved was to elect its first female president back in 2019. Jenny Gu was born and raised in China and studied Eastern and Western Philosophy at Fudan University. She states, “I aim to make diversity and inclusion the main theme of my year in office”. The fact that the ACCA made Jenny Gu the ACCA President emphasises how passionately the organisation believes in female empowerment. This significant development demonstrates that the organisation does indeed provide great opportunities to its female members, including the possibility of attaining the highest position in its ranks.
To conclude, the ACCA have been, and continue to be, a huge driving force in the process of female empowerment. They have demonstrated historically their ability to provide women with the opportunities to break the glass ceiling and hold the highest positions available. The ACCA are an exemplary institution that many other businesses and organisations should follow to provide women with the opportunities to reach their ambitions and become the best that they can be.