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Pride flag AccountingWEB Engaging with Pride all year round
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Engaging with Pride all year round

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Molly Macfarlane talks to Kevin Drew, managing director of Ascentant Accountancy, about his firm’s ongoing support for the LGBTQ+ community and the importance of sustained support beyond Pride Month. 

24th Jun 2024
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Kevin Drew began his Derbyshire-based business in a caravan and after eight years Ascentant Accountancy now has two offices, around 50 employees and 250 clients. 

In celebration of Pride Month, Drew spoke to AccountingWEB about how he always intended to support the LGBTQ+ community from the beginning of setting up his firm so others did not have to experience what he had. 

After facing prejudices in his career, Drew placed diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) as the core values of his business. His focus is on providing opportunities without discrimination or judgment, treating everyone with respect, and celebrating the differences that bring everyone together. 

He encourages other firms to embrace these values and to implement DEI initiatives all year round and not just during times like Pride Month. 

Creating an open and safe workplace 

Drew shared, “In my first few years working in London, big corporate law firms being LGBTQ+ friendly wasn’t the way that things were done. I grew up in an environment where you couldn’t be yourself and in my early career there was a lot of hiding and creating a persona around what I thought people wanted.”

After moving back to the Midlands and deciding to set up Ascentant Accountancy, Drew made sure not only that he was open and honest, but that others felt comfortable to be too. 

“It’s been really important to me that we have a diverse workforce and I’m very proud of that. I wasn’t going to grow something that I wasn’t going to be a part of. I want everybody to be able to bring themselves to work and not have to pretend to be someone else,” Drew said.

He continued to speak about how creating an inclusive and accepting environment is so important for clients, as well as employees. He said, “We treat our clients as people as opposed to customers. The way we interact with people is quite important – we treat them as individuals regardless of who they are and what they do. There is no judgment here.”

When DEI is ingrained in business practices year-round, and not just during specific events, it not only builds trust but encourages open communication and promotes a sense of belonging in the workplace.

Instilling core values 

To create an inclusive workplace, Drew emphasised the importance of making sure that employees receive the necessary education and training. 

“My team has training in terms of DEI, and they have had training on using pronouns. We work with transgender and non-binary clients so it’s important we all use the right language,” he said. 

Each year Ascentant Accountancy also takes on apprentices and Drew said that it is key for the apprentices to have DEI training as well. 

He said, “When we take on apprentices who are fresh out of school, it is important for us to instil those values into the young workforce in terms of DEI.” By teaching these principles early, Drew ensures his business continues to be inclusive and that these values will continue throughout the apprentices’ careers.

Focusing on the community 

Ascentant Accountancy Kevin Drew Ascentant Accountancy’s DEI initiatives also extend past the workplace and into the wider community with Drew saying, “We strive to be community-focused.”

They’re a member of OutBritain, an LGBTQ+ chamber of commerce, they support and donate to LGBTQ+ charities and for the past few years, they have also sponsored Derby Pride. 

“We’ve sponsored Derby Pride for two or three years now. Through being there, we’ve had people come up and approach us that wouldn’t normally approach an accountant with ideas they might have or wanting to set up a community-interest company (CIC),” Drew said. 

As a result of this Ascentant Accountancy has set up a number of LGBTQ+ CICs and provided opportunities to those who may not have felt comfortable talking to other accountants. 

Drew mentioned that being actively involved in the community was very important to him, positively impacting both his business and the community. 

He said, “It’s taking us into industries that we’ve not been involved in before. Derby is very much to do with manufacturing, rail and technology but being aligned with the LGBTQ+ community means we’ve taken on clients who work in the creative arts, film production, TV and media. It’s opening a new client base for us.”

It’s more than a month 

Pride Month is important for celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, raising awareness for the challenges they face and advocating for equal rights. However, some organisations use Pride Month as a temporary marketing opportunity without committing to genuine, year-round support for LGBTQ+ issues and inclusivity.

“The issue is most businesses only want to support Pride in June, not supporting the community for the other 11 months of the year,” Drew commented. 

Drew mentioned that their second office is in rural Derbyshire where there are still a lot of prejudices. He stressed the need for businesses to have inclusive and safe environments and initiatives set in place to support employees and the wider community. 

“It’s being approachable and friendly, treating people as individuals and giving them a bit of humanity. There is still a need for acceptance and for people to be themselves and live their lives the way they want to live. That’s not a difficult thing for businesses to adopt.”