Monday, 11 January 2021

Middle East accountancy and finance profession is for the most part ‘inclusive’, finds ACCA





 

Almost eighty per cent of respondents based in the Middle East from the accountancy and finance professions say they believe their industry is inclusive and open to all, according to a new survey - Leading Inclusion by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).


ACCA conducted a series of research questions and roundtable discussions and assessed opinions from 10,000 ACCA members, affiliates and future members on a wide range of issues relating to diversity and inclusion, starting with the question ‘Are we truly a profession that is open to all?’ Out of those surveyed, 511 respondents were from the Middle


Forty-four per cent of Middle Eastern survey respondents felt within the profession there was an issue that needed to be addressed. And nearly half of respondents felt their working environment was free from harassment and discrimination. However, only a third thought their organisation makes it easy for individuals from diverse backgrounds to be accepted. Only 32 per cent felt that their organisations made it easy for people of different backgrounds to be accepted. And almost 34 per cent of respondents believed their organisations promoted diversity and inclusion policies, but didn’t think these were essential to daily operations. While there has been progress within the Middle East region, the report also found almost half of respondents stated there was not equal opportunity to succeed within their respective organisations.


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.


Fazeela Gopalani, ACCA’s head of Middle East says: 

‘The foundation of ACCA in 1904 was to create a professional body for accountancy professionals open to all. The value of inclusion remains at the core of everything 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 that this planet faces.

‘Fundamentally we need to appreciate the diversity embraces a wide range of facets of our society. To focus on one is to ignore the importance of the rest. In the Middle East, we can see from this survey there has been steady progress made and we’re heading in the right direction with the diversity agenda, but there is no room for complacency. Although, it is good to see over two-thirds of those asked have said accountancy and finance professionals had a positive role to play.’

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.’


Global findings show:

  • 41 per cent of respondents believe there are diversity issues to be addressed, and a further 22 per cent considered that there might be an issue.  

  • 81 per cent of respondents in Africa believe the profession is inclusive, compared with 67 per cent in Western Europe, 67 per cent in the Caribbean and 69 per cent in Central and Eastern Europe.

  • Results for Asia Pacific shows further contrasts with 81 per cent of the respondents in Vietnam feeling that there was an issue to be addressed, 76 per cent in mainland China and 68 per cent in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China in contrast to 51 per cent in Malaysia and 50 per cent in Singapore. For many in the region the issue has been focused on several areas, such as the role of women.

  • 43 per cent of respondents aged 18 – 35 believe there are issues to be addressed, compared with 31 per cent aged 56 and over.

  • 50 per cent said having a variety of different perspectives was the biggest benefit of a diverse and inclusive workforce, followed by better decision making and better employee engagement.

  • 41 per cent of respondents said the organisation that they work for makes it easy for people from diverse backgrounds to be accepted.

  • Just over half – 52 per cent - said everyone in their organisation have equal opportunity to succeed.

=