Image on the cover of the report of a beach.

Nonetheless, we must never be complacent in this area. This report discusses the important subjects of diversity, inclusion and equity from the perspective of the accountancy and finance profession. Ensuring that accountancy is a profession that is open to everyone and that it enables us all to play a full and valuable role in society is fundamental to our reason for existing. It strongly supports our ethical stance.

The report explores the profession and the perspectives of ACCA members, affiliates and future members across this complex agenda. The responses of the 10,049 of this community who took part in a global survey in October 2020 showed the following:

These perceptions were considered with a range of participants in the over 20 roundtables that were conducted on a global basis.

What do we mean by diversity and inclusion?

Each of us may well have our own definitions of these terms. Our understanding of them will be influenced by several factors including the environment in which we grew up, our education, our workplaces and our social communities. Diversity can be reflected upon as the breadth of society that we live in, be that defined by a variety of categorisations some of which may be visible, many of which are not visible. Inclusion is how we bring every dimension of this this rich society into the equation and ensuring that the mix works together. Equity is about bringing fairness to the equation, ensuring fair treatment for each of those experiences. As a profession, the collection of individuals that we are a part of, it is important that we strive to achieving equity.

Why does it matter?

With organisations increasingly focusing on a broader definition of success, often around the 3Ps of purpose, profit and people, as accountancy and finance professionals we are asked to evaluate this in different ways. Regulators and lenders are increasingly focusing on an ethical and sustainable lens in evaluating organisations. Innovation, the life blood of many organisations, is strongly linked to diverse views and opinions that are representative of the customer base. As accountancy and finance professionals often at the heart of decision making, we need to embrace this agenda.

To embrace this, we need to be diverse ourselves. Recognise the need for the profession to be diverse and truly open to all. The report explores this and our perceptions of how well we are doing.

Organisational maturity and the accountancy and finance professional

Organisations are on a journey. Some are towards the start and others further along. This journey can be represented as five stages of maturity towards a sustainable business, moving from where the agenda is seen as one focused on regulatory compliance to one where organisational culture leads the agenda, and everybody plays their part.

An agenda for everybody

As individuals it is important that we know what our organisations should be doing and the personal steps that we should be taking to ensure that we are furthering the agenda. It is not a corporate agenda, nor an HR agenda, it is an agenda for everybody. Playing the role of advocate, sharing our stories and enlightening others is an important step. Review the ‘ten things I can do box’ and consider how many of these you personally do. The report contains many hints and tips to think about.