UKs top 1000 accounting and finance firms are not doing enough to address gender diversity according to a new report carried out by Visible Women.
It found that nearly two thirds of firms have no women listed as executive board members, partners or senior accountants, with nearly all having five or fewer.
The news comes following Prime Minister Theresa May's criticism of Britain's financial industry earlier this month for failing to promote and retain women.
Barbara Kasumu, CEO of Elevation Networks (who run the initiative), said: "Our findings suggest that the glass ceiling is still very much evident in the accounting profession.
"Too few women are making it to the top of the profession, despite almost half of students enrolling with professional UK accounting courses being female."
The report was carried out to examine gender diversity in the accounting profession six years on since the Equality Act (2010).
There were 4,771 executive members, directors, company partners and senior accountants profiled, less that a quarter of which were female.
· Of the members identified just 73 (1.5%) were identified as being women from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
· Over half, equivalent to 638 (63.8%) of the accounting firms profiled had no women identified as directors, partners or senior managers.
· Only 65 (6.5%) of the firms had a gender profile where women represented over half of the board members, partners and senior managers.
· Around 4% of the firms had between 96% and 100% female representation. This included 43 organisations where the sole proprietor was female, or where women occupied all board and partner positions.
· Nearly all (97.6%) of the accounting firms surveyed had five or fewer female board members and partners.
"Accounting firms need to be more intentional with initiatives designed to support women as they progress through the ranks," Kasumu added.
"The profession needs to borrow best practice from other industries as a matter of urgency.
"The current rate of progress is too slow."
· Professional accounting bodies must do more to attract and support female members undertaking their programmes through more tailored support for women looking to progress their careers.
· Accountancy firms could do more to promote flexible working practices, such as job-sharing, flexible hours and home working to attract and retain female talent.
· There should be an examination of the current role that technology could play in
overcoming barriers to flexible working, including technologies that would enable women to work remotely.
· More detailed research is needed to establish the reasons behind the high pay gaps in the accountancy profession specifically, with a stronger focus on pay gaps at middle management and executive level.