Two-thirds of UK accountants believe that finance firms are merely paying lip-service to diversity and that equality initiatives are just a "glorified PR stunt", according to a survey.
Only 35% of the 170 accountants questioned by Hewitson Walker recruitment consultancy thought that diversity schemes really made a difference to their employers.
When asked why their employers set up diversity initiatives, 54% of accountants said it was to generate good PR and 73% said it was because they feared prosecution under discrimination laws.
One female respondent aptly summed up the feelings of the majority of female accountants:
"There's supposed to be a level playing field here, but the only women who really get on are those who are willing to forego a family and commit completely to the bank," she said.
"There are a few at senior level with children, but if they ever get to see them it must be a minor miracle."
Phillip Attenborough, manager at Hewitson Walker, said the cynicism was understandable. "There's obviously a degree of cynicism about how committed large companies are to diversity because power in these institutions often still resides in the hands of a markedly un-diverse group," he said.
Only 29% of respondents believed that companies had a genuine commitment to creating a diverse workforce at all levels.