Sixty-one per cent of global respondents to a survey amongst accountancy and finance professionals say that they work in an environment free from harassment and discrimination, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) reveals in a new report Leading Inclusion.
Through research questions and roundtable discussions, ACCA has gauged global opinions from 10,000 ACCA members and future members, including 154 in Ghana about a wide range of issues relating to diversity and inclusion, starting with the question ‘Are we truly a profession that is open to all?’
Ghanaian respondents reveal 90 per cent believe this to be the case, the highest result in Africa along with colleagues in Nigeria (87 per cent) and Zambia (81 per cent). A similarly high score – 87 per cent – believe the profession is inclusive. However, 62 per cent of respondents said they work in an environment free from harassment and discrimination, compared with 55 per cent across the whole of Africa.
Seventy-five per cent in Ghana saw a link between diversity and inclusion policies to organisational success, with 53 per cent confirming benefits come from better decision making and 44 per cent said having a variety of different perspectives.
Thirty-six per cent said the profession has a diversity issue that needs to be addressed. And when asked if as individuals they understand the steps that could be taken in the workplace to promote diversity and inclusion, 50 per cent said ‘yes’ and 41 per cent said ‘partially’ – just five per cent said ‘no’ and four per cent admitted to not knowing.
The report concludes that there is no basis for complacency, with 82 per cent of Ghanaian respondents saying the profession should do more to promote diversity and inclusion amongst its membership.
ACCA’s report offers recommended actions to promote diversity and inclusion in organisations, from establishing a diversity and inclusion policy which sets out organisational principles to leadership principles that sets the tone from the top and holding leaders accountable – individuals make the difference; organisations can provide the frameworks. The report also suggests actions that accountants can take to develop this agenda.
Helen Brand OBE, chief executive of ACCA says: ‘The foundation of ACCA in 1904 was to create a professional body for accountancy professionals that was open to all. We take pride in being the first body to admit women members as early as 1909, and to being a pioneer for other notable milestones in the profession’s evolution. The value of inclusion remains at the core of everything that we do. ACCA’s commitment in December 2020 to the UN Sustainable Development Goals is one aspect of this. Goals 5 and 10 particularly speak to aspects of diversity and inclusion and how we need to work together to address some of the fundamental issues we face.’
Norman Williams, portfolio head of East / West Africa adds: ‘Fundamentally we need to appreciate that the diversity agenda embraces a wide range of issues in our society, so we need to focus on these as a whole. What we see in these results for Ghana is a profession aware of the environment in which it works and keen to engage. All across Africa, our members are strong advocates for the profession, leading by example and willing to lead the inclusion agenda.’
Clive Webb, author of the report and senior insights manager at ACCA adds: ‘The pandemic is impacting our society in many ways. The impact on social justice is starting to be felt in many ways too, and our report argues, this is something in which accountants must play a fundamental role. As accountancy and finance professionals, it’s important that we apply our robust and ethical lens to the challenges of the diversity agenda. By focusing on the symptoms of the issues rather than the causes we run the risk of not making substantive and lasting change when it is very necessary. I truly hope this report places these important issues centre stage so we can take the dialogue and engagement further.’
Clive Webb concludes: ‘Accountancy and finance professionals must be a force for good in the organisations that we work in and for. Our ethical lens and the trust in the profession means that we cannot but fail to embrace the diversity and inclusion agenda. It is too important to be left to one side, it is about the fabric and future of the organisations that we are involved in. It is not just the responsibility of the human resources team, but something that everybody in the organisation needs to embrace.’
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is a thriving global community of 227,000 members and 544,000 future members based in 176 countries and regions that upholds the highest professional and ethical values. The association believes that accountancy is a cornerstone profession of society that supports both public and private sectors. Thus, their committment to the development of a strong global accountancy profession and the many benefits that this brings to society and individuals.
Since 1904 being a force for public good has been embedded in our purpose. And because we’re a not-for-profit organisation, we build a sustainable global profession by re-investing our surplus to deliver member value and develop the profession for the next generation.
Through the world leading ACCA Qualification, the association offers everyone everywhere the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management using respected research, that lead the profession by answering today’s questions and preparing for tomorrow.