the employee referral process

referral visibility

We recently released our findings based on a survey with 100 employees, which investigates the current landscape and shortcomings of employee referrals: “Rewarding Referrals: Strategies & Insights to Increase Employee Participation & Longevity”. One of our key findings was the necessity to include reward systems into your referral strategy in order to successfully increase referred hires from an industry average of under 10% to over 30%.

the referral process

Previously, we wrote about the types of rewards that can be used when providing bonuses for employee referrals. We found that while money is effective, there are many other forms that increase participation, such as time-off, personal development and experiential rewards. However, choosing the right type of reward isn’t the only factor that needs to be considered. When and how to reward referrals is equally important. Therefore, a clear, well-defined employee referral process that includes game mechanics, is what takes referrals from a passive benefit for recruitment teams to an active source of hard-to-reach candidates. In this blog, we will explore some of the dos and don’ts of the referral process.

when to reward referrals

Through our survey, we found that 34% of companies only offer rewards for referrals upon a hire being made with a further 65% once a referred candidate has passed their probation period. Only 1% of those surveyed said that their company rewards earlier in the application process. To put this into context, when considering hiring timelines (as seen below), it could take up to one year before employees are recognised for making a referral. In addition, since a majority of candidates will not pass the interview stage, most employees who have referred someone from their network will see no recognition for their efforts.

referral bonus timeline

a lack of transparency

Worse yet, due to the inability to easily track the status of their referred candidates in the hiring process, employees are left in the dark on the progress of their referrals. This is even more damaging, when considering that a number of employees will refer someone and never receive a reward, creating mistrust in not only referrals but also the company they work for. In fact, our survey shows that 83% of employees are unable to track the progress of referred candidates. This means that for most employees, their experience with referrals will be a negative one.

gamification & reward systems

Looking at game mechanics as an indication for how likely employees are to participate, it’s clear that instantaneous rewarding is a key factor to success. If the employee performs a positive action, in this case an introduction to a candidate, or the very first step of a referral, they need to be immediately rewarded. Here, microrewards are powerful, and when correctly used, result in employees continuously referring. It’s important to break down the application process and to incorporate gamification into the various stages of referrals.

For example, successful forms of rewards for when a referral is made could be raffle tickets, which result in a prize at the end of the month. The more referrals an employee makes, the more raffle tickets they earn, increasing their chances of winning. When a referred candidate moves onto the interviewing stage, another micro-prize could be offered. Even something as simple as a free lunch can be highly motivational. This lets you use gamification to experience much higher returns on your referrals.

a tailored referral process 

But do your employees prefer raffle tickets or a points-based system? Are they fans of leaderboards or do they dislike competition? Much like what type of reward to choose, the only way to know how to formulate your process is to ask your employees. At Real Links, the first step to creating our clients’ referral strategies is to hold focus groups with their employees. We rely on their feedback to create a referral process that increases participation and longevity. We then setup the gamification elements of our platform based on these results, ensuring that referrals are a key recruitment component in our clients’ organisations.

Interested in learning more about how you can transform referrals into a key source of hires? Download our whitepaper now.

what are the best employee referral bonuses?

We recently surveyed 100 employees to better understand the current landscape and shortcomings of referrals. Our survey base spanned multiple industries, geographic locations and job roles, with varying levels of seniority. We have now released the findings in a free whitepaper, “Rewarding Referrals: Strategies & Insights to Increase Employee Participation & Longevity”. One of the key focus areas of the whitepaper was to understand what the best employee referral bonuses are to increase participation in referrals over the long term.

the best employee referral bonuses

We’ve found that the biggest obstacle to successful referrals is participation and longevity through our past experiences working with clients. For this reason, it’s vital that a well-thought-out strategy is in place that includes reward systems. While most companies today, 88% according to our survey, opt to only offer cash bonuses upon hire or passing probation, our findings show that there are multiple other forms of recognition that are motivating, and often at a lower cost. These can range from raffles to beer and pizza parties to charity donations. However, according to those surveyed, the three best employee referral bonuses for increasing employee participation are time-off, personal development and experiences.

In this blog, we will be exploring these three types of rewards that can transform referrals into a key source of hires by increasing employee engagement:

time-off

While it’s true that even in our study money was the greatest motivator, time-off came second at 50%. Studies show that people who value time over money are happier.  People today have heavy workloads and busy personal lives. More and more people are reporting that time has now become a scarce commodity.

This speaks volumes for the potential in rewarding time-off for referrals. It’s not only a way to recognise employees for their efforts in sourcing candidates for your company, but it could also increase overall satisfaction rates, creating engaged employees. While employees will greatly appreciate a day-off for making referrals, it will also give them the rest they desperately need. The effects of employee engagement on productivity are well documented, with reports that highly engaged employees increase profitability by 21%.

Additionally, in the majority of cases it’s more cost-effective than a cash bonus, when considering that typical monetary referral bonuses tend to sit around the $500 – $1000 range, more than a day of annual leave for most employees.

personal development

Career development has become a key focus for people today. This is supported by our findings, which show that personal development ranks as the third most motivational award. However, employees today are less and less focused on a career within a certain company. People are job hopping more than ever before and this trend is expected to continue. Therefore, acquiring the skills they need to successfully make lateral moves, internal and external, make personal development one of the best employee referral bonuses.

Similarly, thanks to continual developments in technology, core skills constantly need to change. People today feel that their skills are going to date very easily, and in the majority of cases, they’re not wrong. This makes rewarding personal development, be that budget or courses, an extremely desirable, and therefore motivating, form of rewarding.

rewarding experiences

Trips, helicopter rides, scuba diving lessons, the list is endless when it comes to experiential rewards. The reason they can be one of the best employee referral bonuses is because experiences are far more memorable than money. People rarely remember what they spent their referral bonuses on. While employees appreciate money, the appreciation is fleeting. They also expect it, as most companies today provide referral cash bonuses. Experiences, on the other hand, are something people may remember and appreciate for the rest of their lives.

What’s even more powerful with these types of rewards, is that the positive memories gained from these experiences are associated with your company. This is not only extremely motivational, but also helps in retaining employees. Additionally, with a proper advocacy plan in place, experiential rewards can help your employer branding efforts. Everyone today is an influencer. A simple Instagram post from one of your employees with your company tagged in it about an experience you provided them is an endorsement like none other. This is one of the many ways that referrals can play a vital role in your employee advocacy strategy.

so what should I use to reward referrals? 

The options may seem endless. The truth is there’s a lot of different rewards that are effective, and unfortunately most companies’ rewards strategies are based on assumptions. This is one of the key reasons that referral schemes fail. For example, we recently hosted a focus group at a major recruitment consultancy we work with. Our assumption was that the competitive aspects of our platform’s gamification features would be well received. After all, recruiters thrive in and are used to a competitive environment. However, the opposite turned out to be true. They responded negatively to implementing yet another leaderboard. They had enough competition in the workplace. On the other hand, when we held a similar focus group for nurses, we were surprised by how excited they were at the prospect of competition. It was culturally unusual for them and therefore enticing.

The reality is that until you speak to your employees, everything around what, how and when to reward referrals is an assumption and a risk you can’t afford to take. The best policy here is to tailor your rewarding strategy to what your employees find desirable. The only way to truly understand what would motivate your employees to participate in referrals is to ask them directly. In our experience focus groups are an excellent method to understand how to tailor your referral strategy to fit your employees. That’s why they’re one of the first steps we take when working with clients. The findings from these focus groups then go on to dictate how we setup our platform, gamification and process.

While understanding what the best employee referral bonuses are is important, the entire rewarding process is equally paramount to success. When should you reward your employees for referrals (when a candidate starts inteviewing, upon hire, upon passing probation, etc.)? How do you use referrals to increase your recruitment pipeline? You can find the answers to all these questions and more in our free whitepaper, which will help you establish a referral strategy that increases participation and longevity. Read it today.

We’ve moved offices!

real links team meeting

As Real Links continues to expand, our need for space grows too. That’s why we’ve recently relocated offices in London from a co-working space to our own dedicated office. We’re now in buzzing Bethnal Green, a well-connected hub of interesting restaurants and hip bars such as Mother Kelly’s and Fugitive Motel.  A stone’s throw away from Victoria Park lets one enjoy nature when looking to take a break from city life and the ever-popular Brick Lane is right around the corner, filled with great food and culture.

Our new office is an open plan concept, allowing for a great atmosphere focused on teamwork and easy communication. However, this comes with its own set of challenges when looking for privacy. As a result, we’ve installed soundproof booths from Meavo. Featuring premium interiors, power sockets, an active ventilation system and even a wireless charger, they’re ideal for making a call or focusing in a quiet, comfortable environment.

Additionally, the building we’re in, The Pill Box, a part of Workspace, allows for a change of scenery in its stylish reception/café. With a ping pong table for tense office tournaments, plenty of seating space ideal for team meetings, a gym to uphold New Years’ resolutions and even a roof terrace to enjoy sunny days, the Real Links team have an excellent space to grow and reach the goal of becoming world leading providers of employee referral strategy and technology.

Want to Improve Employee Retention? Here Are 5 Steps You Need to Take Now.

We’re in the age of the job-hopper, when workers would rather flit from one company to another than stay with the same company long-term.

In fact, a study by Deloitte found that nearly half of millennials plan to leave their current job within two years, and that less than a third plan to stay longer than five years.

That’s bad news for companies and HR execs. But don’t give up just yet – there are things you can do to keep your top talent with you longer.

If you want to know how to improve employee retention, have a read of our five tips.

1. Create an employee referral program.

We hate to state the obvious, but one of the best employee retention strategies is to make the right hire in the first place.

Instead of wasting your time and resources on candidates who are the wrong fit (and who’ll leave your company faster than you can say “notice period”), increase your likelihood of finding the right fit by creating and hiring through employee referrals.

An employee referral is a recruitment method that relies on your existing employees connecting candidates from their networks to a company. The great thing about this method is that you gain access to large talent pools of hard to reach candidates through recommendations as well as introductions to passive and pre-qualified talent. 

Often, the people they recommend have similar values and goals to them, which means if they’re a valued employee, their referral probably will be too. On the other hand, when the person is just an introduction rather than a recommendation, companies are able to reach out and speak to highly sought after talent who are often unreceptive to traditional recruitment methods.

Not only are referred candidates 55% faster to hire, they reduce recruitment costs by up to $3000 per hire, and statistics show they stay with their companies longer.

Want to know more about how you can boost your employee referrals? Get in touch with us now.

2. Offer flexible working.

The strict 9 to 5 working day is out, and flexible working is in. Access to remote working, sabbaticals and flexible hours is the new normal.

If you can show employees you trust them enough to manage their own work and working hours, you’ll most likely experience a spike in productivity levels and engagement.

According to a recent YouGov survey, 89% of British workers believe that flexible working will boost their productivity.

It’s worth knowing, however, that a third of flexible UK workers feel less important in their company because of their flexible working hours. So if you can offer this and still make employees feel like valued team members, you’re more likely to keep your top talent.

3. Hire effective leaders.

Let’s be honest: one of the biggest reasons people leave their job is because of bad management. Workers quit when they feel their direct supervisors either aren’t doing a good job or that they’re difficult to work with.

Stats show when an employee rates their manager’s performance poorly, they’re four times more likely to look for another job.

So if you want your best employees to stick around, you need to make the right hiring decisions when it comes to filling management roles.

4. Encourage employee progression.

The truth is, nobody’s going to stay in a job that bores them. Your best employees want to be challenged. They want to feel like they’re moving forward and that they’re growing professionally and personally.

If you’re not actively nurturing employee progression, expect your best workers to up and leave.

You should know their individual skills and talents, and you should give them the opportunity to explore them – even when it’s outside their usual work remit.

Other ways to encourage progression is by conducting regular pay reviews, offering positive and constructive feedback, and giving them opportunities for professional development and continued education.

5. Show employees they’re valued

The fastest way to lose talent is to make them feel like they’re not valued.

Interestingly, this appreciation doesn’t have to mean more money (though salary does matter). You can show employees you value them by listening to what they have to say, implementing their feedback, being transparent in your decision-making as a company, and offering benefits they actually want and need.

One report revealed that 59% of UK workers say a personalised benefits package – including things like gym memberships and free meals – would “influence their decision to stay at a company”.

When you know your employees well enough, you can tailor their rewards and make them feel so valued they choose to stay with you longer.

Honestly? There’s no way to stop employees from eventually moving on, but if you show them you’re committed to them, you’ll have loyal workers that love your company and will stay as long as possible.

Real Links is a platform that helps you leverage the power of employee referrals. As well as matching you with the best candidates, we make your hiring process faster and reduce your recruitment costs dramatically.

Want to know more? Get in touch with our expert team now.

IHL London ’19 Shows How Technology is Advancing the HR & Recruitment Scene

Real Links exhibit at IHL London

Last week, on the 10th of September, we had the pleasure of exhibiting at IHL London ’19. The industry defining event saw over 1,000 attendees come together to explore the many developments taking place in recruitment. This year’s conference was filled with speakers and exhibitors who are providing new approaches to hiring solutions coupled with representatives from some of the biggest enterprises worldwide. Must attend events like IHL London ’19 prove that the HR scene is on the brink of major advancements fuelled through remarkable technology and innovation.

We had a great time meeting and exchanging insights with people from companies spanning multiple industries such as BT, adidas, Deloitte, The LEGO Group, Gumtree and more. Our team also had the opportunity to attend a number of interesting presentations. Two topics repeatedly featured this year were:

Success Through Technology & Data

The first was how using technology and data is helping companies achieve talent acquisition and retention goals at a higher rate than ever before. Companies investing in new, powerful platforms are finding increases in employee engagement, retention rates, satisfaction and other key performance indicators. The importance of data was also brought up this year at IHL London ’19. It’s vital that companies today track success in recruitment and HR. However, it’s also key to use data to improve upon existing processes by identifying trends such as channels and activities performing better than others and how this information can be used to help improve HR and recruitment processes.

The Power of Social

The second prominent theme was how companies investing in social were experiencing massive benefits in recruitment. Today 79% of firms are experiencing more online visibility once implementing a social advocacy channel. Thanks to this, companies are able to hit their often-challenging recruitment goals. Additionally, content shared by employees receives 8 times more engagement than brand channels. Therefore, speakers pointed out the importance of engaging your employees when investing in these lucrative channels. Finally, forward thinking companies are finding immense success in promoting open vacancies through their employees’ social networks.

Thinking of adopting technology and social to achieve your recruitment goals? Get in touch with us now.

The Benefits of Employee Referrals

The Benefits of Employee Referrals

11th September 2019

Employee referrals are a recruitment channel with a number of benefits such as boasting an extremely high conversion rate, where only 7% of applications come in through referrals yet they’re responsible for 40% of all hires. For employees, referral programs often feature appealing bonuses such as time off, cash, physical prizes and much more. Similarly, the secret to success when it comes to candidates finding their ideal, next position often lies within their professional networks. Employee referral programs, when handled correctly, create a best-case scenario for all stakeholders: employers, employees and applicants. 

Benefits for Employers

A referral program is a great way to source pre-qualified applicants, passive talent and even poach candidates from your competitors. It’s simple really, the people who you trust to produce results in your company have a vast network of likeminded individuals, who are more likely to be a cultural fit and get the job done. They also on average carry a 39% higher employee retention rate than candidates sourced through agencies and other recruitment tactics.  

A solid employee referral program is also more cost and time efficient than other forms of recruitment. From a financial perspective, recruitment agencies are known to be extremely expensive. Thanks to aggressive commission schemes, they often care less about matching the ideal candidate with the role than they do about fulfilling their quotas and generating revenue. On the other hand, internal recruiters spend a significant amount of time searching for candidates, qualifying them and setting up conversations. For hard to fill roles, these considerations can be extremely difficult challenges to overcome.

Finally, assuming your employees are appropriately incentivised to refer candidates, the success of your employee referral program can speak volumes for the rate of satisfaction your employees experience in the workplace. After all, an employee that cherishes their position and company is much more likely to recommend their friends and the people they trust, if they’re happy with where they work. They’re also more motivated to recommend people they believe will truly make a change at your organisation and satisfy your growth targets as they truly care about what’s best for your company. 

Benefits for Employees

While most employers have financial incentives in place when it comes to referrals, they also opt for other bonuses ranging from free travel to prizes such as bikes, gadgets and much more. On top of this, recognition in company communication channels as well as from supervisors are great motivators that push employees to become active in an employee referral program. However, there’s also the recognition within their personal networks, such as their social media channels, and the satisfaction of knowing that they helped someone close to them progress in their career. 

Successful and happy employees have your company’s goals in mind and are looking for solutions to hit their personal and professional goals. For example, a software engineer may have a daunting roadmap in front of them, which an additional, productive team member would help them achieve. Finally, the prospect of having an active hand at choosing their colleagues, and working alongside people they like and respect, is very motivational. 

Benefits for Candidates

Being referred for a position by someone who already works at a company often grants job seekers the coveted status of a fast track candidate by getting their CV in front of the right people at the right time. Rather than submitting their CV to hundreds of companies and filling out tedious, often painstakingly long application forms, their own networks can be a great first step to finding their next position. Or, better yet, perhaps one of your employees will reach out to them, whether they’re actively looking for the next step in their career or not, with a recommendation for the position of their dreams. 

Employee referral programs are one of the strongest forms of sourcing talent that focuses on quality. They feature multiple benefits for all stakeholders and have an active hand in creating a tangible, positive company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about employee referrals, Real Links’ platform automates the entire employee referral program through an intuitive matching system that promises to reduce the time spent and costs of recruitment.

Get in touch with us now.

Come meet us at IHR Live London ’19

IHR Live London

We’re exhibiting at the IHR Live London conference & exhibition on the 10th of September at the Business Design Centre. The one-day free event sees thousands of in-house recruiters, industry visionaries and innovators gather to network and learn about the finest technologies currently disrupting the world of in-house recruitment. We’re looking forward to having interesting conversations with attendees on how they’re tackling the challenge of sourcing great candidates today. 

Showcasing our platform at stand 37

This year at IHR Live London, we’re exhibiting at stand 37, where we’ll be showcasing how our own online platform is disrupting the recruitment space by revolutionising employee referrals through auto-matching of our clients’ employees’ connections with their open vacancies. We’re also going to be demonstrating how Real Links’ technology supports diversity in the workplace and adheres to GDPR compliance regulations by anonymising referral candidate data during the application process. Finally, we’ll be exploring how using our platform can lead to an increase in employee satisfaction through gamification and a tailor-made employee engagement scheme. 

Getting the most out of your referral schemes

A key focus for us at the event will be to demonstrate the value behind a well-thought out and properly implemented referral scheme. With a focus on activating employees as referees and recognising their efforts throughout the candidate experience through rewarding and other engagement tactics, companies find that they’re able to secure 30% of their open positions through referrals at a cost three to four times cheaper than traditional recruitment tactics. Additionally, we’ll be exploring how referrals from engaged employees lead to candidates that better fit into a company’s culture as well as provide access to passive talent that can help fill hard to recruit for roles and increase employee retention rates by 39%.

Want to book a meeting with us at IHRL London? Sign up now

Recruiting for ‘hard-to-fill’ vacancies could cost UK businesses up to £38 billion

Recruiting for ‘hard-to-fill’ vacancies could cost UK businesses up to £38 billion

9th July 2019

We conducted research into how much hard-to-fill vacancies could cost UK businesses if they were all filled by candidates from recruitment agencies. 

With a reducing unemployment rate, there is an ever-dwindling pool of potential candidates ready to fill these vacancies. 

Latest statistics from the ONS* show that there are currently 32.75 million people over the age of 16 employed in the UK, up 357,000 since the same time last year, and unemployment has fallen from 6.6% to 3.8% – the lowest it’s been since 1974. While this is fantastic for the UK economy, it’s not so great for companies with vacancies, especially with those that are notoriously difficult to fill.

Statistics from the CIPD state that 61% of organisations that are actively hiring, report that they had at least one vacancy that they class as hard to fill.

If we apply this statistic to the 5.7 million SMEs in the UK, then there are 3.48 million vacancies that companies are struggling to fill. With an average cost of filling vacancies reportedly £11,000, the total cost to UK businesses could be £38 billion.

On top of this, organisations have reported that they are struggling with staff retention, with a third (33%) of organisations stating that it’s growing more difficult to retain employees. By actively engaging staff in referrals, rewarding and incentivising them for all steps in the recruitment process and adding elements of gamification, retention can be improved greatly. Referred candidates have an average retention rate of 46%, compared to 33% for candidates sourced through career sites. Added to this, 82% of employers rate referred candidates above all other sources for generating the best ROI.

Using a platform such as RealLinks can help businesses attract candidates and retain employees through our unique tools. Real Links uses employee referrals, incentivised and gamified, to keep current employees engaged and utilises their networks to find the right fit for the team.

By using employee referrals, candidates can be essentially handpicked by current employees based on having the right skill set and whether they would fit in with the all-important work culture. This in turn will hopefully keep the right people in the right roles and make those hard-to-fill vacancies a little bit easier to recruit for.

*https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/june2019 

The 3 biggest problems with referrals and how you can overcome them

The 3 biggest problems with referrals and how you can overcome them

21st May 2019

Employee referrals are considered by many to be the best source of quality hires. But, while they can assist in bringing in great candidates, there are a number of common problems that companies will encounter. Here we discuss strategies that you can implement to solve them, whilst still utilising one of the most effective hiring channels.

Unconscious Bias

The human element in recruitment can introduce an element of human bias which can lead to unfairness and inequality during the hiring process. That’s why many companies are now investigating and implementing artificial intelligence in the recruitment process to help reduce the effects of unconscious bias.

When a ‘robot’ is separating qualified individuals based on merit and not perceived value companies can ensure they are treating each candidate fairly.

[To learn more about how AI is changing the recruitment process click here]

Platforms like Real Links use artificial intelligence to select the best candidates from employees’ networks and match them with roles that they are most qualified for. The anonymity of potential candidate profiles for recruiters until the candidates apply, helps to root out any unconscious human bias and is a valuable method to ensure hiring is based on talent, whilst also increasing workplace diversity.

Lack of motivation and engagement

Many companies do not fully incentivise their employees for taking part in their referral scheme. But doing so can be a win win, helping to reward employees in even a small way can get much bigger results for a company and help them to hire better quality candidates at a lower cost.

In 2015, Intel decided to accelerate their diversity through an incentive led referral program. By doubling the referral reward from $2,000 to $4,000, Intel decided to take drastic steps in order to diversify their predominantly white and male demographic. By introducing a worthwhile incentive program, they were well on their way to meet its diversity goal with 41% of 2015 hires coming from underrepresented groups, up from 32% in the previous year.

At Real Links we recommend our clients implement a referral reward for any successful hire (however small) as well as a incentivising the actions that lead to a hire through an employee leaderboard that tracks shares, applications and other actions on the platform. This keeps employees engaged over the medium term by allowing them to compete against each other or against other teams/departments in the company.

 

Creating a Similar Workforce

In 2019, a diverse workplace isn’t just desired; it is considered essential.

Diversity has been proven time and time again to have a wide array of benefits for any workspace including;

  • Recruiting top talent
  • Driving creativity
  • Helping to break into new markets

Using sports as a metaphor; a baseball team entirely composed of pitchers  can exchange tips and techniques and become experts in the role of pitching, however, when they go out on the field their prospects of winning are low compared to a well balanced and diverse team with a range of experience and specialisms. Having a team of diverse individuals who can bring unique talents and be able to cover all sides of the field will better increase the possibility of winning the game.

Employee referrals are often thought to impair a company’s efforts to diversify, as people have a tendency to seek out and associate with people who are like-minded and similar to themselves. In a phenomenon known as “sorting” when a referral is sent in, the chances of the referred individual being very similar to the person submitting the referral are high.

However companies are getting creative in their attempt to diversify their employee referrals. When thinking about ways to encourage more diverse referrals, Pinterest had a very simple yet effective strategy: just ask employees to refer more diverse candidates. The genius lies in its simplicity, sending a message to their employees about the value they place on diversity.

Abby Maldonado, HR Business Partner at Pinterest, revealed the challenge the company presented its engineering team to refer 10x more candidates from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds and 2x more women over the next six weeks.

The results speak for themselves: They saw a 24% increase in the percent of women referred, as well as a 55% increase in the percentage of candidates from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.

Women make up only a quarter of executive boards at top accountancy practices

Women make up only a quarter of executive boards at top accountancy practices

15th April 2019

We researched and analysed the data from the top 25 accountancy firms in the UK and found that women make up just a quarter of the executive boards.

In the top 25 executive boards, there are 518 members; 381 of which are male compared to 137 female board members. Twelve of the companies are male dominated, with 70% and 90% having male board members.

According to statistics, women made up 44% of full-time accountants in the UK in 2014. However, our research found that only two of the top 25 firms reflect this and a further six boards were only one third women. Shockingly, four executive boards had no women on them at all, with all four ranking in the top 20 firms.

When studying the data we found that out of the top 10 most common names of board members, nine were male names, with the first female coming in at the number 10 spot. Out of the top 20 most common names only two were female.

Here are the top 10 most common names:

  1. Mark
  2. David
  3. Andrew
  4. James
  5. Richard
  6. Paul
  7. Peter
  8. John
  9. Nick
  10. Sarah

Mark was the most common, appearing 20 times on executive boards, with David closely following in second place, with a total of 19 occurrences.

The first instance of seeing a woman in the list was Sarah, with seven board members having this name. This was followed by Caroline and Michelle, with both names only appearing three times each.

The largest accountancy firm in the UK had just a third of women on the board at 33%, whereas the 19th largest firm’s executive board boasted the most even split, with 52% male and 48% female  board members.

Sam Davies, CEO and co-founder of Real Links, said,

“While statistics show that the accounting industry has a relatively even split between men and women, it seems women are still struggling to climb to the top of their firms.

“The statistics we discovered were shocking and show that inequality is still prevalent in the industry. Despite targets and policies designed to encourage more women into senior roles, progress has been slow. The recent gender gap reporting has shown that parity is still a long way off, so at Real Links, we think that employers need to consider anonymising recruitment to ensure candidates are chosen on experience rather than being subject to any unconscious bias.

“The top 25 accountancy firms need to ensure they’re leading by example to try and close the gender split at the most senior levels in their industry.”