This article was first published in the April 2019 International edition of Accounting and Business magazine

ACCA’s Approved Employer programme recognises employers for their high standards in staff training and development.

In 2018 the Texas-headquartered beauty brand and direct sales company Mary Kay was granted professional development status under the programme. This is a recognition that ACCA-qualified members working in the organisation get its support to identify and complete relevant development activities aligned to their role and career ambitions.

‘I’m so very proud that Mary Kay has become an ACCA Approved Employer,’ says Deborah Gibbins, the company’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer. ‘To be affiliated with an organisation with the history and stature of ACCA builds the reputation of Mary Kay as an employer of choice for accounting and finance professionals around the globe. In addition, our Approved Employer status will provide additional resources for our finance teams in developing the skills required to be effective in the future, as technologies such as blockchain and robotic process automation transform our work.’

Siobhan Pandya FCCA, director of lean and continuous improvement in Mary Kay’s manufacturing division, initiated and managed the group’s Approved Employer application. The process involved providing ACCA with key information – such as the number of ACCA members in the company’s global organisation – plus supporting documentation on the training and development support they receive.

Pandya gathered the information in advance and found the process straightforward. ‘You can use screenshots from your internal website, such as web pages with information on training programmes,’ she explains. ‘You can copy and paste blank forms. And I realised there can be a dialogue, so if some information was missing, there would be an opportunity to add it in.’

The process was free and quick, she adds – a ‘two-week turnaround’ from application to approval.


Pandya points to numerous benefits in being an ACCA Approved Employer. For a start, she says, it makes the CPD process much easier.

‘Normally you have to fill out a CPD form and list all the hours you have done,’ she explains, ‘but when ACCA approves an organisation as an Approved Employer, it’s saying the structure the organisation has in place gives ACCA faith that members are getting the developmental hours they need. So this year, when I complete my CDP, all I will have to do is confirm my employment at an Approved Employer.’


Discounted recruitment support is another big attraction. ‘Say we have a job vacancy in a competitive market where it’s difficult to hire,’ Pandya says. ‘We have access to the ACCA job board.’ The board is a global jobs portal for job-seeking finance professionals around the world. Approved Employers receive discounted rates for advertising on the site, along with access to virtual careers fairs and improved recruiter directory listings.

Approved Employers also gain promotional benefits, being listed in a directory of Approved Employers, and can use a special logo. According to ACCA’s research, 81% of Approved Employers say their status helps them attract and retain good-quality graduate and finance employees.

Approved Employers also have access to ACCA’s intellectual resources, such as content from its Professional Insights (PI) initiative. PI reports cover topics directly relevant to members and their organisations today and in the future. ‘As an Approved Employer you are not only a recipient of these reports, but may also participate in their development,’ Pandya says. Researchers involve Approved Employers in surveys, questionnaires and interviews.

‘We also have access to webinars on a regular basis, keeping us up to date with what’s happening in the finance industry,’ Pandya says. ‘A big plus for me is the quality of the material.’ Other benefits include an Approved Employers newsletter and dedicated care from local ACCA offices.

Employee views

ACCA members at Mary Kay are pleased with the Approved Employer status. Nadezhda Kim, finance manager in Kazakhstan, believes it will strengthen Mary Kay’s ‘image and positioning as an employer, building the HR brand and making it more attractive and popular. It is recognition of high standards of development and educational support for finance employees.’

Paulynn Chiok FCCA, finance manager for Mary Kay Malaysia and Singapore, sees the status as a ‘milestone’ for the company. ‘The key difference will be simpler CPD completion and having assured learning and development in place,’ she says. ‘This will certainly help to enhance our corporate image and attract talent.’

Elena Kotova FCCA, manager in financial reporting and analysis for Mary Kay Russia, an ACCA member since 2003, welcomes the ‘official recognition’ of the company’s development support for finance staff. She expects the partnership between Mary Kay and ACCA to ‘provide new opportunities in learning and development for Mary Kay employees, motivate employees to grow in the profession, and elevate Mary Kay’s employer brand for finance professionals’.

Grasp the nettle

Pandya encourages ACCA members to take the initiative to achieve Approved Employer status – which is open to enterprises of any size. ‘Find out how many ACCA members there are in the organisation,’ she urges. ‘Even if it’s a handful of people, initiate the process. The application is simple and free. As ACCA members, each one of us can be an advocate for gaining Approved Employer status, because we are the ones who will reap the most benefits.’

Julie Hepburn is ACCA’s head of quality and recognition.