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Unconscious bias training has its place, but it isn’t a silver bullet that will solve the challenges of diversity in our organisations. BY DAWN LEANE We humans can be an irrational bunch. On one hand we know that we shouldn’t smoke, we should exercise more, eat less sugar and start a pension when we’re young. Yet while we know that our behaviour is self-sabotaging, we still do all the wrong things. And therein lies the challenge for unconscious bias training – while it makes sense at a logical level, its potential to impact behaviours and attitudes is limiting. Bias defined Bias is a tendency, inclination or prejudice towards or against something or someone. We all have them; they’re the product of our life experiences and hark back to a time when such bias was imperative for survival. Our brains are primed to make split second decisions that draw on a variety of assumptions and experiences. The problem is that when those assumptions are based on both positive and negative stereotypes, they lead to poor and often discriminatory decision-making. Without the right context, training may only serve to make people compliant. It can even breed resentment and cause more problems than it solves. This is especially true when such training is mandated for employees, as if the responsibility to remedy the situation is theirs, while fundamental flaws in the culture or systems of an organisation go unchallenged. So, how does an organisation create the right climate for effective unconscious bias training? Creating the right climate Negative stereotypes arise from ignorance or anxiety about failing to understand our differences. The best way to challenge such stereotypes is therefore direct exposure to the subject of our preconceptions. In practical terms, that can mean actively hiring or promoting more diverse candidates. Research shows that when we can re-categorise others according to shared features or characteristics, we are more likely to see them as part of our tribe and less likely to experience prejudicial thoughts. Neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to reorganise itself throughout our life based on our experiences – suggests that the way we categorise others is more malleable than we imagine. With the right stimulus, i.e. getting to know people as real people rather than part of an ethnic, age or gender group, we can effectively rewire our brain. Research from MIT suggests that organisations with meritocratic values are often the worst offenders when it comes to bias, specifically as it relates to gender; favouring men over women who perform equally, particularly in terms of bonus or career opportunities. Conversely, organisations that value individual autonomy showed no such difference, leading researchers to conclude that merit-based pay practices, in particular, may fail to achieve race-neutral or gender-neutral outcomes. Ironically, it appears as though managers who work for meritocratic organisations believe that they are more impartial and unconsciously act on their biases. While it is very difficult to entirely eliminate bias, we can make it easier for our biased minds to make fair decisions. The best approach is to limit the trigger opportunities for bias by engineering it out of our systems and processes. Most people have heard of the blind orchestra auditions in which candidates auditioned behind a screen. Even when the screen was only used for the preliminary round, it had a powerful impact – researchers have determined that this step alone made it 50% more likely that a woman would advance to the finals. Unconscious bias training has its place, but it isn’t a silver bullet that will solve the challenges of diversity in our organisations. It’s far more successful in environments where diversity exists, highlighting our tendency to stereotype rather than making us more open to embracing diversity. Dawn Leane is Principal Consultant at LeaneLeaders.

Jul 09, 2018

Institute President Feargal McCormack received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science (DSc) for his civic contributions.   Feargal was born in Warrenpoint and since 2009 has been a Visiting Professor at Ulster University Business School. In this role, he has made a highly significant contribution to the development of the School, through fostering links with leading  business figures.  As well as his capacity as Institute President Feargal holds many roles with major sporting and charity organisations including Special Olympics Ireland, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and InterTrade Ireland.   As the founder and Managing Director of the leading private professional accountancy practice PKF-FPM, Feargal is recognised nationally as a leading figure in the field of professional accounting. He is also a widely recognised and respected business mentor and advisor.   In 2012 Feargal received the prestigious All-Ireland Award from the Institute of Management Consultants in recognition of his “significant contribution to business and public life in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland over the last 20 years”. Other recipients of this award have included Dr Martin Naughton and former Irish President, Mary McAleese.   Dr Feargal McCormack commented, “It is a great honour to receive this honorary degree from Ulster University in recognition of my civic contributions. I am proud to be a visiting professor at the business school and it means a great deal to me to be among such revered honorary graduates as well as such a promising group of students. I wish them the best in their futures wherever their paths may lead.” Ends About Chartered Accountants Ireland Chartered Accountants Ireland is the largest, longest established and fastest growing professional accountancy body in Ireland with over 26,500 members in 93 countries around the globe.   Reference:      Brendan O’Hora, Director of Communications and Marketing E:                    brendan.ohora@charteredaccountants.ie M:                   00353 86 2432428  About Ulster University Ranked in the top 2 per cent of universities worldwide, Ulster University is one of the top 150 global young universities under 50. Ulster University is a modern, forward-looking institution with student experience at the very heart of everything we do. Our high quality teaching, informed by world-leading research across key sectors, boosts the economy and has a positive impact on the lives of people around the world. Reference:      Lee Campbell, Ulster University, Communications Team E:                    l.campbell5@ulster.ac.uk   T:                     028 90366178/ 07714613757 

Jul 06, 2018

Chartered Accountants Leinster Society Survey shows newly qualified Chartered Accountants in industry earning over €61k 5 July 2018 The average salary package (including base salary, car or car allowance, plus bonus) for a Chartered Accountant in Leinster is €109,146, reflecting the significant demand for Chartered Accountants at all levels in the local market. The survey of more than 1,100 Chartered Accountants, published today by Chartered Accountants Leinster Society in association with Barden, provides a definitive guide to Chartered Accountant salaries in Leinster. The research reveals that 83% of Chartered Accountants have received a significant salary increase within the last three years, with more than half obtaining an increase of over 10%. The average salary package for a Chartered Accountant working in industry in their first year post-qualification now stands at €61,044. The average salary package for those working in industry who are now five years qualified is €74,706. The survey also indicates a healthy level of career progression within the Chartered Accountancy profession, with 46% of those surveyed having been promoted in the last three years, a similar figure to the same period in 2017 (45%). The survey finds that most Chartered Accountants in Leinster work in business (69%), with 18% working in an accountancy practice and 13% working in not-for profit, public service or in government. 25% of those surveyed reported moving to a new job in the last 12 months.   The survey also points to the other benefits enjoyed by Chartered Accountants. 23% of respondents either have a company car or receive a car allowance.  18% of respondents receive share options. Almost half are enrolled in a workplace health insurance scheme (48%). To find out more about becoming a Chartered Accountant, visit www.charteredaccountants.ie/study Download the full report >>> Key Findings: Average salary package (base salary, car or car allowance, plus bonus) for a Chartered Accountant in Leinster is €109,146. (2017 figure: €106,500) The Average Salary Package for a Chartered Accountant in their first year post-qualification taking a position in industry stands at €61,044. (2017: €56,800) 83% of Chartered Accountants have received a significant salary increase within the last three years, with more than 50% obtaining an increase of over 10%. (2017: 79% said their salary had increased by at least 10% in last three years) Most Chartered Accountants in Leinster work in industry, business and financial services (69%), with 18% working in an accountancy practice and 13% working in not-for profit, public service or in government. 46% of respondents have been promoted in the last three years (2017: 45%). 25% reported moving to a new job in the last 12 months. (2017: 23%) “How was your bonus calculated?” 1,121 members responded to this question with personal performance being a criterion for 55% of respondents; company performance was a criterion for a 54%, with 16% of respondents citing team performance as a criterion. “What value do you place on work / life balance and flexible working arrangements?”  84% place a strong value on better work life balance and flexible working. (50% said they would give up 10% of their salary, such was the importance of flexibility to them). Commenting on the results of the salary survey, Lorna Larkin, Chairman of Chartered Accountants Leinster Society said: “The 2018 Leinster Society salary survey shows a continued strong demand for Chartered Accountants, with growing earning potential and considerable career opportunities in many different areas including business, public practice, government and the voluntary sector. “As well as benchmarking salaries, the survey is tracking career satisfaction, progression and non-monetary compensation, making it a valuable insight for our members and for employers. It also gives a great snapshot of the profession to those who are considering a career in Chartered Accountancy. “Chartered Accountancy remains the largest single employer of new graduates in Ireland so it’s good news for the wider economy and for graduate prospects that the market for Chartered Accountants remains buoyant. We are seeing more training vacancies available in businesses and practices across Ireland for graduates of all backgrounds, and Chartered Accountants Ireland offers flexible entry-routes into the profession. These results show why Chartered Accountancy remains the leading accountancy qualification in Ireland with attractive rewards, international opportunities, and rapid career progression.” Elaine Brady, Managing Partner of Barden, who assisted in analysing the survey results said: “A significant sample of over 1,100 Chartered Accountants makes this definitive guide to Chartered Accountant salaries in Leinster. It provides some real insights to the rewards, the spread of employment opportunities and career progression offered by a career in Chartered Accountancy. “The survey suggests a flourishing employment market with plenty of opportunity for qualified Chartered Accountants and real competition for talent. There has been some strong growth in salaries for Chartered Accountants, with 4 out of 5 receiving a significant pay rise in the last three years. “As well as salary levels, we are seeing that having a range of benefits and a sensible work/life balance are important to finance professionals when considering their role.” Ends Note to Editors: Chartered Accountants Leinster Society is a district society of Chartered Accountants Ireland, representing over 13,000 Chartered Accountants throughout Leinster. Chartered Accountants Ireland is the largest, longest established and fastest growing professional accountancy body in Ireland with over 26,500 members in 93 countries around the globe.   Average salary package is the total of the basic salary plus bonus and car allowance or car (valued at €12,000 for the purpose of the survey) The survey was conducted by Chartered Accountants Leinster Society from 1 to 22 June 2018. Reference:  Karen Jones, Gibney Communications T: (01) 6610402 / kjones@gibneycomm.ie

Jul 05, 2018