Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

Diversity & Inclusion at the Big 4 Accounting Firms

The history of discrimination and male-dominance is evident within the accounting industry, but times have changed. Today, according to Catalyst, more than half (61.3%) of all accountants and auditors are women. This is a staggering increase from the 39% they had in 1983, which at that time was considered a giant step forward.

But while this is brilliant, only 24% of partners at accounting firms are women. And about women of color? Or men of color?

The stats are limited, so we decided to take our own look. We used our proprietary methodology, the Employer Brand Index, to collect all the diversity and inclusion user-generated data available about Deloitte, PWC, EY and KPMG from platforms such as Twitter, Glassdoor, Quora and more in Q2 of 2018.

Here’s what we found:


A clear commitment to female inclusivity

What is apparent is that there is a real commitment to empowering women at the Big 4, a consistency we also found studying the Top 10 Tech Companies using our Employer Brand Index methodology.

The findings, especially regarding females is staggeringly similar between the accounting industry and the tech industry. One the one hand we found plenty of comments regarding the female-friendly environs being created at the Big 4, the flexibility of schedules for working mothers and more. On the other hand, both industries lack women in leadership positions and a gender disparity in pay.

But the overall outlook on women at the Big 4 is positive, and we look forward to seeing females flourish in accounting as time goes on!

The evolution of the traditional accountant

The stereotype that accounting is only for men, specifically heterosexual men, is now laughable. It just isn’t the real representation of the accounting industry, at least at the Big 4.

Over time we’ve seen super positive increases in the number of females earning accounting degrees at college, as well as the evident excellent balance of men and women in accounting roles.

But that gender inclusion we see, based on our findings, is evolving and we see far more LGBTQ-inclusion at the biggest accounting firms in the world, as well as a mission to hire more and more people of color.

It’s not perfect yet, but it’s evident that the Big 4 firms are supportive of diversity efforts and contribute a significant amount of time to improve areas of diversity within their workplaces.

The inevitability of positive discrimination

A consistent theme throughout the commentary on EY, Deloitte, KPMG, and PWC, was this issue of positive discrimination or even reverse racism. Something we see not only in the accounting industry but also the tech, FMCG and more.

This issue of, mainly, favoring a specific set of individuals over others, such as gender, sex, age or race. We’ve seen it mentioned in almost all of the big companies we have worked with. An example of this specifically regarding the Big 4, is the hiring policies people believe are occurring, that favor woman and people of color over males, specifically white men.

And while you should always hire the best person for the role, regardless of gender, sex, race, religion or age, the moral case for building a more inclusive and diverse workplace is indisputable.

So battling between these two aspects is a challenge for the biggest companies in the world, and because of that diversity at work can never be perfect. But you can do a good job of it and actively try to improve it, and as the scores show for the Big 4, they seem to be doing just that.

Interested in how your company measures up for D&I and other attributes? Check out the Employer Brand Index today.