This research paper outlines challenges currently faced by the accounting sector in New Zealand, in terms of an emerging skills shortage at the senior chartered accountant level, and a workforce that is increasingly female. Twelve firms of various sizes were consulted to determine the prevalence of flexible work practices. The study found that while a majority of staff were female, a majority of partners and associates were men.
Flexible working arrangements were used sparingly in many firms, and seen by many as being exclusively for working mothers. Working long hours is the norm at partner level, a status quo which is believed to be necessary for profitability; however the study identified that some of the firms which most utilised flexible work practices were amongst the most profitable.
A discussion of the benefits to be gained from adoption of flexible arrangements is included, as are case studies of "success story" companies and an appendix defining workplace flexibility and associated terms.