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

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.”

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Employee Referral Rewards; Transforming Engagement

Keeping employees engaged with referral rewards

Whether you work in an early-stage startup or a longstanding global corporation, increasing employee engagement and cutting costs will certainly be at least two objectives that everyone everywhere has in common. Employee referrals are the solution!

Referral Reward: Adopt a Panda with WWF

Riveting referral rewards keep employees engaged, and hopefully as happy as this panda!

Often one of the most overlooked elements of corporate employee referral schemes are the rewards themselves. In an ever-evolving world, people care about more than just money and Amazon vouchers; it's time to get creative.

We've been out in the market finding out which creative rewards would help boost employee engagement with referral schemes...

12 of the most riveting referral rewards around; just our way of helping you engage employees everywhere!

4 Cracking charity rewards; it may come as a surprise, but the majority of people love to give just as much as they love to get!
So here's four great ways to give:

  • Plant a tree with The National Forest
  • Adopt a panda with WWF
  • Deciding vote: Company's nominated charity
  • Donation to an academic institution of their choice

4 Scintillating social rewards; not only do social rewards allow for peer recognition, they can also benefit those very same peers and thereby foster further engagement!
So let's get social:

  • Company drinks to celebrate your top referrer
  • Deciding vote: Team night out
  • Mention in company newsletter
  • Recognition at next company awards/retreat

4 Glorious gift rewards; innovation doesn't always mean reinventing the wheel, sometimes it's just about finding flashy rims!
So here's four presents you might not offer at present 😉:

  • Extra day of annual leave
  • Gourmet Cookery Course
  • Local Coffee Card (Based in London? I'd recommend Coffee Works)
  • Meditation Retreat

So now you know how to engage your employees through the power of rewards!

Interested in implementing a referral scheme or improving your existing one? Real Links can help!

If you're looking to learn more, feel free to get in touch by emailing max.dunne@reallinks.io; I love a good chat! 😁

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Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing for recruiters

According to the most recent LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends report, the biggest trends set to change how recruiters hire are:

  • Diversity: the new global mindset
  • Candidate assessment tools: newest ways to identify top performers
  • Data: the new corporate superpower
  • Artificial Intelligence: your secret workhorse

The annual report, published last year, surveyed over 8,800 recruiters and hiring managers from 39 countries to better understand these trends and help recruitment teams prepare their strategies. Artificial intelligence is the one trend that recruiters can tangibly use to transform the hiring process.

Real Links is firmly aligned with these trends with it’s referral platform which uses AI & automation to select the best candidates from employees’ networks and match them with roles at a company, rapidly increasing the speed and effectiveness of the traditional referral scheme. The fact that potential candidate profiles are anonymised for recruiters until the candidates apply, helps to root out unconscious bias in the hiring process and is a valuable method to implement workplace diversity.

Artificial intelligence is at times seen as a threat to existing positions in the job market, and although this may be true for some sectors, for recruiters in Human Resources the prospect of having a secret assistant that has indefinite stamina and assured dependability should be exciting and attractive.

Allocating the more administrative duties of collecting and going through CVs and profiles to AI, recruiters gain the opportunity to spend more time sourcing, screening and nurturing potential candidates. As one of the newer trends, we are only just learning its capabilities in transforming sectors for the better. While AI can replace much of the process, only 14% believe it will eliminate recruiters’ jobs. AI is simply a tool being used to generate more meaningful time for the recruiter and eliminates the jobs that clutter the process.

Jon Addison, Head of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn UK, commented “Over the past few years, hiring talent has become a repetitive, and sometimes transactional, process. But there is a shift happening, and these emerging trends are helping to elevate recruitment to a more strategic profession that focuses on the most important and gratifying parts of the job – the human part and thinking critically about how to win the right talent. It’ll be a keen finger on the pulse with these trends that will help recruiters stay alive in our ever-evolving market.”

Taking advantage and capitalising on emerging technology is the best way to ensure longevity and efficiency. Artificial intelligence and automated tools are some of the most creative and innovative solutions that have come out of the tech world and should be utilised by recruiters all over the sector to help them increase the speed and quality of their hiring capabilities.

If you would like to find out more about how Real Links is using artificial intelligence and automation to improve traditional referral schemes please contact sales@reallinks.io

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Real Links coming to UNLEASH 2019

The 5th Annual Spring UNLEASH Conference & Expo will be held in London and RealLinks will be attending!

UNLEASH 2019 showcases smarter ways of working, powered by innovative HR technology and the latest business transformation insights led by global executives from some of the world’s most exciting brands and reputable organisations.

Join RealLinks at UNLEASH 2019 on March 19th & 20th- Booth #622

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You’re Right. This Time It’s Your Boss

How to handle your bossy boss and when is the right time to knock on HR’s door?

Office culture is probably one of the 20th century “inventions” that has experienced such profound changes and reached such new heights in the last 30 years that we should really be proud of ourselves. At one moment (shall we say from the 50s all the way throughout the 80s) we often had this enclosed, iron-fist managed, submissive, hard-working, cigarette-smoke-filled, and often hostile (especially towards women) work environment. Fast forward to the first decade of 21st century and employees are considering rejecting a job offer if there’s no “game room” available on the work premises. What a time to be alive!

But if office culture has evolved, have human condition evolved equally? How different is your boss from some random boss from the 60s? The difference is staggering, many would say. Firstly, laws have changed significantly so the employees are well aware of their rights and ways to protect themselves from hellish bosses.


We are not going to cover here some obvious cases that we assume you already know should be immediately reported to your HR person, like any form of discrimination, harassment, bullying, illegal activity etc. but rather some situations where you are not really sure if the red lines have been crossed.

So when is the time to address a toxic office atmosphere, fuelled mostly by the very person responsible and paid to resolve it and make it better?

SITUATION 1: You’re a small-scale office of 15 people, one extremely nervous and bossy boss, one HR and office air so filled with tension you can cut it with a knife. If lately your boss tends to deal with problems and business obstacles by yelling them out or sending unpleasant emails to almost every person in the office, it’s probably time to head to the HR.

SITUATION 2: Any given workday you are bending backwards trying to fulfil your tasks in the best possible manner but somehow it never seems to be enough and you end up with a condescending if not harsh comment regarding your hard work. If the others in the line management approve of your work and commitment but only your immediate boss is making your life a living hell, it’s time to get HR involved.

SITUATION 3: Picking up coffee for your boss on your way to work is ok if you would stop by to take coffee for yourself anyway and you were the one who offered to bring one extra beverage for him/her. No problem. But if you are on a junior position, fresh out of college and get a casual order to pick up your bosses dry-cleaning or get him/her lunch and your position is not a personal assistant, then you should consider addressing this to your HR. No matter the level of your position, no one should scare you into overstepping your job description unless you agreed to it.


The bottom line is that if you’re already posing yourself a question: “Should I take it to the HR?” it probably means that you should.

Some companies cherish a very relaxed office climate and the line between the management and even junior employees is rarely visible at first glance but more so in situations when important decisions are about to be made or an issue requires a senior expert employee to be involved. This is mostly characteristic for start ups and young entrepreneurs managing a newly assembled team.

In other offices the hierarchy is not only obvious at first sight but is also pointed out on any given occasion and the line of responsibility is very precise and clear to all the employees.

Neither of the two models are per se good or bad. When you join the company, no matter its scale or industry, the behaviour of your manager, a person who is in charge of running the show, is the litmus test of the work environment you’ll find yourself in.

When the situation with your boss starts preventing you from doing your job and contributing to the company, when you dread thinking about the upcoming work week on a Sunday evening and you feel that you’re stressed out not because of the deadline but because of harsh words and snappy comments that were absolutely uncalled for, you should talk to your HR.

What’s the course of action?

  1. Address the issue clearly and concisely.
  2. Make sure to offer examples of your boss’ problematic behaviour.
  3. Point out where you see the problem and why it negatively affects your work.
  4. Propose a possible solution if you can think of any.
  5. Consider and practice the advice you receive from your HR even if you don’t agree with it in full and explore where it might take you.

It’s important to remember that HR in your company is there not only for the problems but also for a simple chat about any work-related topic that’s been slightly bothering you lately. Whether you’re just tired and feel that the workload is too heavy to handle all at once at this moment or you feel demotivated and think that switching to another assignment or project would make you flourish, you should absolutely present it to your HR.

Delaying and hesitating are proven to aggravate problems. The change has to start with you and your HR person. Maybe you’re not part of the problem, but make sure you become the part of the solution.  

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Why should I improve my employee referral scheme now..?

Successful employee referral schemes are a powerful recruiting tool for businesses – they provide significant cost savings and help companies to make more productive hires who stay long term. The problem is that increasing referrals still tends to fall quite low down on the priority list for companies.

Don’t just take our word for it though, let’s have a look at some of the key stats…

9 Key Statistics

1. Highest ROI

82% of employers rated employee referrals above all other sources for generating the best return on investment (ROI)

2. Better quality hires

88% of employers said that referrals are the #1 best source for above-average applicants

3. More likely to be hired

Employee referrals are 3-4x more likely to be hired than non-referral candidates

4. Better retention rates

Employee referral candidates have an average retention rate of 46%, compared to the 33% retention rates of organisations that only use career sites

5. More affordable

 Hiring through employee referrals saves companies at least £2,270 per hire

6. More likely to accept the job

Referred candidates are more likely to accept the job

7. Reduce time to hire

Employee referral candidates are 55% faster to hire, compared with employees hired through other channels

8. Good for diversity hires

Employee referrals are the #1 most productive source of diversity hires

9. Attract passive candidates

Employee referral schemes are more likely to attract passive candidates than other recruitment channels


These are just some of the key stats which show how running a successful referral scheme can be transformative for companies.

If you’re interested in implementing a referral scheme or improving your existing one, Real Links’ employee referral platform can help!

If you're looking to learn more, feel free to get in touch by emailing sales@reallinks.io. We're always happy to chat!


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How to nail your employee referral program with tech…

How Real Links, the employee referral platform, uses technology to solve the problems with employee referral schemes…

My role as co-founder of Real Links is to undertake the software development and product design of our platform. My colleague Sam Davies has already written about the problems that companies typically encounter with employee referral programs after surveying HR professionals and employees.Today, I want to explain how we’ve harnessed technology to solve these problems and build a simple process to increase employee referrals and decrease recruitment spend.

My referral scheme is getting results, couldn’t my company solve the problems with our referral schemes without third party software..?

Undoubtedly, there are some solutions that companies could implement. However, these processes are very labour intensive so it’s our belief that any company looking to improve their existing processes or create new ones could gain a lot from an automated and efficient system.

Visibility — I’m not told about vacancies at my company:

The companies with the most successful referral schemes think carefully about who in their company might have good connections for a specific role, for example those of a similar age or with connections at previous companies, and then make them aware of such roles.

We’ve made this super simple with a one click email to employees asking them to share the job vacancy via email or in their social networks.

We’ve also built an employee referral portal that houses all your current job postings from your ATS which an employee can access to view the current postings.

Time — It takes too long to refer someone.

Time and again the feedback we got from candidates was that they are too busy to share jobs with their friends or, if they do, it’ll just be someone in their immediate social sphere.

We’ve made it possible for employees to refer their network through our easy to use one click sharing features while also tracking the results.


The best referral schemes had employees rewarded for simply taking part. We spoke to one company where their employees would get a £20 gift voucher simply for sharing a job on LinkedIn. Now, that might be on the generous side but giving employees an incentive to be engaged in the process makes a lot of sense — maybe the first few times they try to refer a role they don’t know anyone suitable, but what if they do on the third attempt.

With a typical referral incentive scheme where a hire is rewarded, employees often lose interest.

At Real Links, we have a leaderboard that encourages employees to keep coming back to collect points (gamification) and also the opportunity to win prizes as they score to certain levels.


Individually, these are all pretty straightforward steps you can start to implement today to improve your scheme, in fact you are probably already doing some of these things. However, it takes time to monitor, optimise and implement these features manually and suggest using a software tool would be preferential.

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What’s going wrong with employee referrals..?

We’ve been out speaking to HR teams about our new employee referral platform and one thing is abundantly clear — everyone thinks employee referrals are great! The problem is that, despite us all being more interconnected than ever, employee referral hires are, with a few exceptions, very low.

Do your referral hires account for less than 10% of your annual hires? Don’t worry, our research suggests you are firmly amongst the majority. Even if you’re getting more referral hires, unless you are securing 30% of your annual hires through referrals, we don’t think you are fulfilling your employee referral potential.

So, what’s the problem..? We went out and spoke to employees across a range of industries to find out…

1. I’m not told about vacancies at my company

It was surprising to hear how many people cited a lack of visibility as a key reason. To be fair to the employees, there’s not much they can do if they’re not told about roles.

2. It takes too long to refer someone

What does that mean..? Well, we weren’t sure either so drilled down a bit further.

Basically, a lot of employees said that, if they receive an email about a vacancy, they simply don’t have the time to draft messages and contact their network. They tell themselves they’ll come back to it later but, of course, they rarely do. Another common gripe was “archaic processes” to submit a referral.

3. No recognition unless a referred candidate is hired

There seems to be a feeling that, while it makes sense to only pay recruitment consultants if a candidate is hired, a company’s employees should be treated differently.

Ultimately, they feel that they have put a lot of effort in and recommended a strong candidate, albeit a candidate not hired for that role, and that should be recognised.

4. Companies could offer more interesting incentives

Are you telling me that a big fat referral bonus isn’t enough..? In fairness, it’s not as greedy as first glance suggests. The point made by a few respondents was that not everyone is motivated by money and their company could potentially offer other awards (e.g. a cookery course).

What’s the solution?

It’s pretty simple really. You just need to use our employee referral platform, Real Links (www.reallinks.co.uk).

While that may be a shameless plug, all the employees and companies that we have spoken to agree that Real Links goes a long way to solving the problems mentioned above and will increase employee engagement.

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