The global body for professional accountants

5 March 2013; 2pm-6.15pm, followed by a cocktail reception - Bibliotheque Solvay, Parc Leopold, Brussels

Despite the tangible achievements in the last 50 years, recent studies have shown that the corporate world is far from making the most out of diversity – particularly gender diversity, especially for managerial positions. Another societal issue strongly linked to the broader issue of managing diversity in working life is the ageing of the labour force; age discrimination towards older workers needs to be addressed, new structures and approaches have to be developed to allow the increasing number of older workers to remain active on the labour market.

Fighting inequality and supporting diversity: Europe's big challenge

We have not achieved equality. For instance, women are still facing discriminations, such as pay gaps, or inequalities vis-à-vis their ability to reconcile work and family life. The fact that at present only three per cent of chief executives in the largest European companies are women underlines that companies are not drawing from the full pool of skills that is available. According to OECD data, women are currently probably the most under-exploited resource for the economy and the society.

However, to face the daunting challenges linked to growth and jobs affecting most major economies, we cannot afford to waste women's – nor older people's- economic contributions. There is an urgent need to shift the actual trend and tap into these either largely unexploited – or badly exploited - sources of talent.

There is an economic, societal and business case for this, but changing mentalities takes time, incentives, as well as, crucially, stronger business engagement. It also needs a more focused attention from decision and policymakers, and better awareness-raising actions and dialogue toward - and with - the society as a whole.

ACCA President debate: Fighting inequality and supporting diversity

ACCA, in association with the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU, is therefore delighted to invite you to a high-level conference in the framework of its President's Debate to discuss with experts what can be done to fight inequalities and discrimination in the workplace. The aim is to exchange best practices in terms of existing support towards diversity and also envisage what could be the next steps to reinforce that support.

RSVP by Tuesday26 February to

Draft agenda

2pm: Registration

2.30pm: Welcome speech by the Chair, Martin Turner ACCA Deputy President

2.40pm: Panel 1 - Are we correctly tackling inequality and discrimination in the workplace? 

  • Daniela Bankier, Head of Gender Equality Unit, DG justice
  • Angelica Salvi del Pero, Economist - OECD Gender Initiative 

Case studies:

  • Louise Richardson, Vice-President, AGEplaftform
  • Kasper Paulig, Counsellor for Social Affairs, Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU, the Swedish experience on  a well-developed welfare system to balance work and family life
  • Cristina Vicini, Board Director and GBRW Founding Member, the Global Board-Ready Women Initiative 

3.40pm: Q&As

4pm: Coffee break

4.15pm: Panel 2 - Can we do more - or better - to support diversity?

  • Richard Howitt, MEP 
  • The Diversity charters, tbc
  • Didier Millerot, Head of the Financial Reporting Unit,  DG MARKT 
  • Massimo Baldinato, Member of EU Commission Vice-President Tajani, responsible for enterprise and industry 
  • Turid Elisabeth Solvang, Norwegian Institute of Directors, ecoDa
  • Evelyn Regner, MEP 

5.15pm: Q&As

5.45pm: Concluding remarks by Fiona O'Sullivan, Justice attaché - Civil Law, Equality & eJustice, Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU

6pm: Conclusions by the Chair, Martin Turner ACCA Deputy President

6.15pm: cocktail reception