Glass ceiling cracked, but not smashed

#pressforprogress is this year's International Women's Day theme

Forty years on from the phrase ‘glass ceiling’ being used to define thwarted careers and ambitions - especially for women - ACCA is calling for business leaders to show real and measurable progress on diversity and social mobility issues, as it marks International Women’s Day 2018 (8 March 2018). 

The global theme for this year’s event is #pressforprogress, seeking advances on a number of issues from gender pay parity to equality of opportunity. 

Helen Brand OBE, ACCA’s chief executive, says: ‘2018 is a landmark year for women – it’s the 100th anniversary of some getting the vote in the UK, and also the 40th anniversary of the phrase ‘glass ceiling’ first being used by consultant Marilyn Loden

‘Looking forward, if there’s one area where I wish to see sustained progress, it’s to ensure career ladders break through the glass ceiling for women. We have to take a wider view and seek progress on social mobility - unequal access to opportunities still exist for many women and men.

‘ACCA has welcomed policies to address issues such as disparity in pay and boardroom diversity in the UK and globally. There are examples of good practice highlighted in our recent report Generation next: managing talent in large accountancy firms which shows how the Big Four are addressing diversity to ensure women have a place and voice in their business. This includes KPMG’s women in finance forum and Deloitte conducting ‘blind interviews’ to tackle recruitment bias.

‘The accountancy profession is an attractive career choice for many because of the flexibility and choice it offers. At ACCA we’ve made opportunity a reality, with an open access policy that enables anyone to qualify as a professional accountant. By simply removing the need for prior qualifications, we’ve created access to a profession that offers a rewarding career.’

ACCA says employers and their recruitment strategies are part of the success equation for diversity. Helen Brand adds: ‘As our Gen Next report shows, creating the leaders of tomorrow is an on-going task for firms. The tone clearly has to be set from the top, with a transparent culture that’s committed to diversity. We have to measure this progress too – after all, what’s not measured can’t be managed. 

‘Effective corporate leadership is needed to achieve real and lasting progress. I believe this can be made through open discussion, transparent reporting and ensuring diversity is an integral part of how we work now and in the future.’

To mark International Women’s Day, ACCA has launched its microsite which includes interviews and profiles of women ACCA members:

Key facts about ACCA

ACCA has a strong commitment to gender diversity, both as a professional body and as an employer. Its Council, made up of 36 members, is represented by 58% women (21 Council members). 

• 46% of ACCA members and 56% of ACCA students are women

• 55% of ACCA’s senior staff are women 

ACCA was the first professional accountancy body to:

• admit a women to membership – Ethel Ayres Purdie

• appoint a woman president – Vera Di Palma

• appoint a woman chief executive – Anthea Rose

• appoint a woman from Asia Pac as its president in 2016 – Alexandra Chin 

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For media enquiries, contact:

Monique McKenzie
Tel: 020 7059 5030
Mobile: 07725 613447
Twitter: @ACCANews

About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. 

ACCA supports its 200,000 members and 486,000 students in 180 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 101 offices and centres and more than 7,200 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

ACCA is currently introducing major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally. 

Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. More information is here:










"Effective corporate leadership is needed to achieve real and lasting progress. I believe this can be made through open discussion, transparent reporting and ensuring diversity is an integral part of how we work now and in the future."

Helen Brand OBE - Chief Executive ACCA