ACCA celebrates Global Ethics Day 2020 with a ‘big conversation’ about ethics and sustainability

Corporate authenticity and corporate decency matter more than ever, agree expert panellists at ACCA's global webinar

The 21 October was Global Ethics Day 2020, a global pioneering occasion organised annually by the Carnegie Council. To celebrate, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has organised numerous events, including an ethics film festival attended by  participants from Singapore, Hong Kong, Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand, and a global webinar called the Big Conversation: Ethics and Sustainability.

This global online event is available on demand, and included panellists Marjella Alma-Lecourt, CEO and co-founder of Datamaran and Mark Millar, deputy president of ACCA, along with Jimmy Greer, ACCA’s head of sustainability and the chair Chris Quick, ACCA’s global head of brand and corporate reputation.

The expert panellists shared their views about recovering from the impact of Covid-19, with the growing demand for organisations and nations to become fairer and more sustainable.  

To instigate the Big Conversation, ACCA also launched a spoken word performance by London-based poet Sugar J Poet, where he poses a series of questions about the purpose of the profession, leadership and the accountant’s role in a turbulent world.

Attendees were polled about what is the most pressing ethical and sustainability challenges for the profession, with climate change impacts and extreme weather coming top, and bribery and corruption second.

Jimmy Greer said of the Big Conversation webinar: ‘Because these are big issues, we need a big conversation, one that goes beyond Global Ethics Day itself and which aims to answer the type of questions posed by Sugar J Poet. We need to be thinking much more long term about where the profession stands in relation to its purpose and standing.’

Speaking at the event, Datamaran’s CEO Marjella Alma-Lecourt said: ‘The irrefutable impacts of the Covid-19 crisis and Black Lives Matter movement trigger businesses to do things differently - hopefully for good. I'm talking about corporate authenticity and corporate decency.  Until now, many discussions around these new risks and opportunities, often summarized as environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, were about ‘proving their relationship with the bottom line.’ We are turning a different corner now when it comes to issues like employee well-being, diversity and inclusion, and perhaps also climate change. The data is there to prove it, but it should not be the sole motivator. Companies need to take action on that data and embed it into their risk management, annual reporting, and Board oversight.’

Mark Millar, deputy president, ACCA added: ‘Accountants have a huge role here to be trusted advisers and to do the right thing. The profession is perfectly placed to champion ethics and sustainability, making a significant contribution to sustainability, because a respect for ethics, and an insistence on seeing the big picture, is built into our mentality of doing things. How the profession makes a contribution extends far beyond the business-as-usual concerns of the traditional accountant.’

The spoken word performance is online on ACCA’s You Tube channel and reads as follows:

Rudder, by Sugar J Poet, October 2020

Where’s accountancy?
What’s the purpose of this profession
as we sail through wind and waves?
Is profit the only measure of success
or does sustainability matter too?
Is your profession a cornerstone of society
or somewhere off in the corner?
What can you do?
The weather is changing.
Who will decide what the future holds?
Everyone sees the mast and sails no one sees the rudder.
Yet a rudderless ship cannot direct itself.
Fairness to people and planet. Expertise and integrity,
balance is needed to keep business afloat.
So what’s your role?
What does accountancy do?
What’s the purpose of your profession
with everything that’s happening around you?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aonB3fgcL4I&feature=youtu.be

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About ACCA: ACCA is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. We’re 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. We believe that accountancy is a cornerstone profession of society that supports both public and private sectors. That’s why we’re committed 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 our world leading ACCA Qualification, we offer everyone everywhere the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. And using our respected research, we lead the profession by answering today’s questions and preparing us for tomorrow. Find out more about us at accaglobal.com

"Because these are big issues, we need a big conversation, one that goes beyond Global Ethics Day itself and which aims to answer the type of questions posed by Sugar J Poet. We need to be thinking much more long term about where the profession stands in relation to its purpose and standing."

Jimmy Greer, head of sustainabilty - ACCA

"The irrefutable impacts of the Covid-19 crisis and Black Lives Matter movement trigger businesses to do things differently - hopefully for good. I'm talking about corporate authenticity and corporate decency. Until now, many discussions around these new risks and opportunities, often summarized as environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, were about “proving their relationship with the bottom line”. We are turning a different corner now when it comes to issues like employee well-being, diversity and inclusion, and perhaps also climate change. The data is there to prove it, but it should not be the sole motivator."

Marjella Alma-Lecourt, CEO - Datamaran