Africa’s rise ‘requires more women in the finance profession’

13 May 15

Africa cannot rise without the active participation of women in the finance profession, the Africa Congress of Accountants was told.

In a session dedicated to women in accountancy, Asmâa Resmouki, an audit partner in Deloitte Morocco and vice president of the Pan African Federation of Accountants, cited research that showed companies with better representation of women performed better.

She also shared figures showing that while many women in Africa started training is an accountants, they often did not stay in the profession.

‘Where do they disappear? How to make them stay? And how to make the profession more attractive to women? Resmouki said.

‘Our objective is to find a new model. There might not be one model.  Women are different, like men are different.’

Women’s participation required the involvement of men, she added.

‘Men are not our enemies, they are our partners.’

The session also heard from Olivia Kirtley, who became the first female president of the International Federation of Accountants in September.

She said she was ‘living proof’ that a lot can change for women in the finance profession in a very short space of time.

Kirtley shared with delegates her personal story of struggling to be hired by leading accountancy firms when she began her career in the US. A day-long interview ended with her being told that, while she was an impressive candidate, the firm did not hire women.

‘For the first three fourths of the twentieth century women in accountancy were virtually non-existent. They worked in the back office. Clients would not accept women.

‘Women were shut out because of bias and tradition.’

She said that while a lot of progress had been made, there was still relatively few women in leadership roles in the profession and more needed to be done to retain and promote them.

While not in favour of quotas, Kirtley suggested that greater monitoring and measurement of diversity could help.

‘What gets measured gets done,’ she said. ‘When you shine sunlight on things it creates different behaviour.’

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