This paper draws on new data examining career opportunities and experiences of ethnic minority women. We follow a growing literature in the field of social accounting which has raised awareness of both actual and represented notions of women's roles within accountancy and organisations in general (e.g. [Adams CA, Harte G. Towards corporate accountability for equal opportunities performance. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Occasional Research Paper No. 26; 1999; Kirkham L, Loft A. Gender and the construction of the professional accountant. Acc Organ Soc 1993;18:507-58; Tinker T, Neimark M. The role of annual reports in gender and class contradictions at General Motors 1917-1976. Acc Organ Soc 1987;12(3-4):71-88]), and has demonstrated how social accounts of organisations are generated and represented [Adams CA, Harte G. The changing portrayal of the employment of women in British banks and retail companies' corporate annual reports. Acc Organ Soc 1998;23(8):781-812; O'Dwyer. The construction of a social account: a case study in an overseas aid agency. Acc Organ Soc 2005;30:279-96]. In producing this paper, we seek to extend such approaches to include race and ethnicity. Thus, our purpose is to reach an explanation as to why, when for 3 decades during which legislation has been in place to outlaw unfair discrimination, and when organisations have policies purporting to support and serve that legislative framework, ethnic minority women continue to struggle for corporate acceptance and progression. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.