In principle, the Accounting for People initiative announced by the UK government in January 2003 held out the possibility of a real step forward in promoting the interests of employees. Despite its distinctly managerialist discourse, the initiative acknowledged that having now recognised that ‘people are our greatest asset’, employers should begin to consider how to report on their people management activities in financial statements. After more than three and a half years of consultation, debate and deliberation, larger UK quoted companies are now charged with providing only a minimal level of general information on their employees. Whatever promise may have been evident to wishful thinkers in the early months of the initiative, this outcome confirms that there is little possibility for progressively ‘accounting for people’ as long as such practices are shaped by powerful sectional interests. The purpose of this paper is to subject the initiative to critical scrutiny. The paper seeks to document how the Accounting for People initiative was quickly and effectively emasculated as a consequence of the power and influence wielded by the UK accountancy profession, identified as a key agent of capital. Additionally, attention is drawn to a number of contemporary developments, largely and perhaps knowingly ignored in the course of the Accounting for People debate, that may yet inform and energise a more radical approach to accounting for people.
Roslender, R., & Stevenson, J. (2009). Accounting for people: a real step forward or more a case of wishing and hoping? Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 20(7), 855-869. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpa.2007.02.003