Journal of Business Ethics 164 (1):17-38 (2020)
AbstractAccess to a deep pool of talent is essential to the success of every professional services firm. The supply of that talent is contingent upon the available rewards for the exercise of that talent, and both the existence of the potential rewards and the beliefs that individuals hold about the existence of the rewards affect the decision to remain in the field. One structural factor that may affect the judgment about whether to remain in a profession concerns promotions based on the gender of the employee. In this study, we examine the “glass ceiling” within the context of the accounting profession. While advances have been made within the accounting profession to address the glass ceiling, the continued existence—and perceptions about the continued existence—of the issue exert adverse effects upon the available talent pool and may create long-term problems for the profession. In this study, we investigate glass ceiling perceptions among a large sample of female accounting professionals employed in accounting; the sample includes both public accountants, and those employed in industry accounting. Our study yields the finding of beliefs in bias-driven effects, structural effects, and cultural effects among these accounting professionals. Glass ceiling perceptions are also influenced by several demographic factors. Furthermore, accounting professionals employed by industry are more likely to report a glass ceiling within their firms than accounting professionals employed by public accounting firms. The findings are of interest to researchers who explore gender-related issues in professional service firms such as the field of accounting, and to senior members of practice who are tasked with ensuring the integrity and quality of the talent pool and the equitable distribution of rewards to employees.
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