A study of managerial competencies required by managers to effectively manage diversity in KwaZulu-Natal.
Background: There is a shortage of Black chartered accountants, with some progress being made in transforming the industry. Accounting firm managers must be prepared to effectively manage the increasing diversity of the profession. Methods: The primary objectives of the study are to determine the KZN accounting firms' managers' and trainees' perceptions of diversity management in the accountancy profession; to determine the KZN accounting firms' managers' and trainees' perceptions of the Chartered Accountancy profession Charter (CA Charter); and to identify the accounting firms' managers' and trainees' perceptions of managerial competencies required by managers to effectively manage diversity in KwaZulu-Natal. A prospective, descriptive and analytical, cross-sectional design using systematic sampling was employed. The responses of 45 accounting managers and 114 trainees were analysed. Results: Both managers and trainees perceived the six managerial competencies important in managing diversity, but the ranking order of perceived importance indicated that there are variations in ratings. Teamwork and self-management competencies were highly rated by managers, while communication and teamwork competencies were highly rated by trainees. A total of 84.4% of managers were male, 44.4% were White, and 91.1% were between 30 to 60 years old. 47.4% of trainees were male, 51.8% were African, and all were between 21 and 30 years old. 42.1% of trainees reported knowledge of the CA Charter, in contrast to 64.4% of managers (p<0.05). 34.2% of trainees did not believe that the accounting firm has a plan to retain Black employees, as compared to 4.4% of managers (p< 0.05). Both managers and trainees believed that diversity should be led by top management. Trainees were more attached than managers to individuals of the same race (p<0.05) and language (p<0.05) as themselves. Conclusion: The managerial competencies are vital for the accounting firms. managers. The study suggests that the accounting firms. managers should consider the importance given by trainees and by themselves in prioritising the most important competencies they require in managing diversity. Accounting firms are encouraged to include the six managerial competencies in the firm's management development programme or training and development programme. Incongruities exist between managers' and trainees' perceptions of managerial diversity efforts and the equity of remuneration call for greater transparency in existing and future diversity management practices. While the CA Charter remains the guiding professional piece on diversity, poor awareness and the lack of targets/benchmarking may fuel the divided perceptions. The language and race based attachments of both trainees and managers are reminiscent of the divisive and exclusive history of the profession. There is still much work to be done in the way of changing perceptions, attitudes and behaviours, before diversity can be effectively managed.