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Diversity and the evaluation of talent in the accounting profession:the enigma of merit

Anderson-Gough, Fiona, Edgley, Carla ORCID:, Sharma, Nina ORCID: and Robson, Keith 2024. Diversity and the evaluation of talent in the accounting profession:the enigma of merit. Accounting Horizons 38 (1) , pp. 27-37. 10.2308/HORIZONS-2022-103

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While accounting firms are facing recruitment and retention problems, regulatory bodies are calling for efforts to improve diversity to be more effective, especially at senior levels. In this paper, we discuss “merit” and assumptions about “meritocracy” in processes of performance evaluation and career progression. Based on interviews in medium and large professional services firms in the United Kingdom, we explore how the language/practices of merit can inhibit moves to improving diversity. Merit has two aspects: “technical” notions of core competencies associated with merit and cultural notions of social fit, which have the effect of favoring the progression of the elite groups embedded within firms. The latter creates a loop in understanding merit, enacted within firm culture over time, that is difficult to disrupt. As such, efforts to improve diversity are unlikely to bring about change without considering how organizational beliefs about merit have unintended consequences.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Publisher: American Accounting Association
ISSN: 0888-7993
Funders: Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales Charitable Trusts
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 December 2023
Date of Acceptance: 10 October 2023
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2024 20:35

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