Diversity & Inclusion Within Accounting: Vincent Egunlae

This summer, we had the chance to sit down with the talent Vincent Egunlae.

He is a
One Young World ambassador, a Public Sector Consultant and the Co-Founder of The Open Private School, a charity that gives state-educated children the same professional opportunities often afforded to their privately-educated counterparts through a tailored mentoring programme.

During our time, we spoke about his career so far, his biggest successes & failures and of course diversity. The full, video interview can be found
here.

This snippet focuses on a question around the lack of diversity within accounting and, more importantly, how to address it.

Vincent's answer…

So I don't think so... It's difficult for me to speak for the public sector, having recently joined, but within audit I wouldn't say there's a lot of diversity within audit at all.

But I think (don't quote me) that within the top four accounting firms, the biggest in the world, they don't have a single black Audit partner, for example, and you're talking about thousands of partners - not a single one.

So it's impossible to say that there is diversity at the top level; although what I think we're starting to see within audit and within the wider accounting profession is more diversity at entry levels because I think the firms have started cottoning on to the fact that they want to pick from a bigger pool of people.

They need the best candidates, so initiatives that have been introduced are: some firms aren't looking at university grades anymore; some firms are approaching universities outside of their normal sphere; people are taking on more school leavers, which would typically more diverse, intakes and that's making a difference.

But it's not yet, I think, filtered out to the upper echelons. So it's difficult to say that there is this a diverse profession because I don't think it is. But I do think it is definitely going to get there

In terms of seeing more diverse candidates rise, there's two main factors that I think come into play as to why I think it's going to happen.

I think the first was the unfortunate death of George Floyd. Tragic, but I think after that, people started to shift their mindset from I can't be passive, I want to be part of the solution. When you get that massive body, that like that groundswell of support, that is now present across accounting at the top level, then the barriers that were previously in place can start to be removed.

People are making really big steps, such as linking partner remuneration to pay. People are looking at how work is allocated. People are trying to ensure that every day inclusion is embedded into their model, and I think that's going to have a really big impact on the diversity of the people that we're trying to bring in.

And then once you bring the people in, I think we need to try to keep them there. I think you'll find that at higher levels, there's higher attrition amongst black and minority ethnics than there is amongst their white colleagues and white counterparts. The way we can change that by making people feel included in in the workplace. I think that all starts with discussions and talking about race, which is something that I understand many people find incredibly hard.

It's hard to do, but now I've started to see more conversations and it's not been from the usual suspects, which is what I call them; more and more people are truly starting to understand there has been problems with there have been problems with racism at work there have been problems where there have been instances where people have been made to feel excluded.

We do have structures in place that don't serve the goal of every day inclusion and I think we're really working towards making a difference in that area now.

Vincent is a One Young World ambassador, a Public Sector Consultant and the Co-Founder of The Open Private School, a charity that gives state-educated children the same professional opportunities often afforded to their privately-educated counterparts through a tailored mentoring programme.

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