Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Business
5 March 2013updated 22 Oct 2020 3:55pm

Ok, so there is “tokenism” in selecting women, say firms

"Still on the nursery slopes"

By Raymond Doherty

Leading figures from major law and accountancy firms admit there has been “some tokenism” over the issue of women in senior roles

Simon Collins, chair of KPMG UK, said there has to be organic change to address the problem but “we are still on the nursery slopes”.

Collins was speaking at the Women in Professional Firms: The Male Perspective event hosted by SJ Berwin and Steven Pearce Associates (SPA) last week.

It was the launch of SPA’s latest research report, based on interviews with senior-level men from leading professional firms on why there are so few women at the top of professional firms and what both genders can do, strategically and practically, to obtain a balance.

Accountancy and the legal profession have been criticised for the lack of women in partnership and leadership roles, despite a recent push to instil greater equality.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Collins said that although it is true that some are “paying lip service”, his firm is serious about the issue from the top down.

Content from our partners
What are the green skills of the future?
A global hub for content producers, gaming and entertainment companies in Abu Dhabi
Insurance: finding sustainable growth in stormy markets

“There needs to be more organic change. The leadership and tone have to be authentic. It’s incredibly easy to undermine it so it’s vital for those in senior positions to set that tone,” he said.

Mark Bomer, senior partner at BDO LLP, said that it was a very difficult proposition. “How do you make firms more attractive to senior women?

“I admit our firm is not at the forefront but others have done some great things with little results,” he added.

Christopher Saul, senior partner at Slaughter & May, argued that, equality aside, from a business standpoint it represented a poor return on investment of time and money when almost half of his firm’s women leave before gaining a senior position.

He admitted that there has been some “tokenism” and that there has to be more tangible action on the issue.

This article can be read in full at economia.