Female leaders: being 'man-like' bad for diversity

Cesar Bacani
CFO Innovation
The world celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8, an annual reminder of how attitudes towards women’s equality and emancipation have changed, and how much more needs to be done.
 
It’s a campaign that is close to the heart of Helen Brand, Chief Executive of ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants). The 162,000-strong organization was the first accountancy body to welcome women as members in 1909 and was also the first international accountancy body to be led by a woman, Vera di Palma, in 1980.
 
Women have moved forward in finance, Brand told CFO Innovation’s Cesar Bacani, “but there’s still a long way to go.” She discussed the issue of women in finance in this first part of a wide-ranging interview conducted earlier in the year. Edited excerpts:
 
Would you have an idea as to how many women CFOs there are worldwide?
I wouldn’t have that figure, but it’s low as a percentage. Another measure would be partners in the Big Four firms, and that’s low. In some cases it’s stagnated or slightly declined in recent years.
 
It’s not on an upward trajectory on the senior level, not on a steep upward trajectory at all. There’s still a long way to go in terms of attracting women into those roles.
 
ACCA has done quite a lot of work with [UK non-departmental public body] Economic and Social Research Council researching issues around diversity in the boardroom. I think just as important is diversity in the senior executive roles in an organization.
 
It’s about women wanting to do those roles, as well as the barriers to their getting those roles.
 

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