Creating a better world

June 2024

We’re sharing the highlights of our plan to support you to help to build a better, fairer and more sustainable world, says ACCA’s Jamie Lyon.

It is not just down to governments and large organisations to solve the biggest problems facing our planet today – problems such as climate change, social inequality and a widespread lack of trust. As individuals, each of us also has an important role to play.

Whether you’re a professional accountant or student, you are particularly well placed to make a difference. Here are five ways in which you can make a positive impact that will help to change our world for the better:

Drive the sustainability agenda

Sustainable organisations that create long-term value for society, as well as financial value for their stakeholders, will be the bedrock of the future global economy. Yet despite setting ambitious non-financial goals, including net zero targets, many organisations are still overly focused on short-term, financial metrics and are struggling to transition to more sustainable business models.
How you drive the sustainability agenda within your own organisation is likely to depend on the nature of the organisation, as well as your own role within it. Nevertheless, you should have many opportunities to enhance the sustainability performance of your organisation during your daily work.

Understand the benefits of AI adoption

While AI presents some significant societal and environmental threats, it is also potentially a huge force for good. As a professional accountant, you are well placed to help your organisation to understand and capitalise on the benefits of AI adoption, supporting the business case for investment. As part of this process, you can ensure that any AI tools adopted have a valid business use, genuinely benefit the company’s stakeholders, and will help further the journey towards a better, fairer and more sustainable world.

Promote the importance of good ethics

Without good ethics, it will not be possible to build a better, fairer and more sustainable world. Professional accountants hold some of the most trusted positions in our society and their work underpins the effective functioning of the capital markets. Rightly, it is therefore expected that professional accountants will behave ethically – in other words, take the ‘correct’ course of action, even in circumstances when it’s challenging to do so.

Advance an inclusive workplace culture

Innovation will be the route to growth and competitive advantage for the organisations of the future. So, organisations must be able to tap the talents of a broad pool of people – people with different backgrounds, capabilities, experiences, knowledge and skills. The only way that will be able to achieve this is by creating a culture that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I).

You can help to advance an inclusive workplace culture within your organisation by thinking about how you practise inclusivity in your day-to-day interactions with others – for example, by ensuring that everyone in the team has an opportunity to speak in a meeting and actively welcoming new ideas.

Develop a continuous learning mindset

To thrive into the future, and to help shape a better world, you will still need your traditional finance skills, the ones that will have stood you in good stead in your career so far. Alongside these traditional skills, however, you will also need to develop new skills, which might include the ability to apply new auditing or reporting standards, interrogate and interpret data, or effectively prompt AI tools.
In light of today’s rapid rate of change, it is essential to develop a continuous learning mindset – a mindset where you are always ready to learn new things and prepared to adapt to changing circumstances. As well as gaining additional credentials and qualifications, you can nurture this mindset by seeking out mentors and new professional experiences.

A better, fairer and more sustainable world cannot be taken as a foregone conclusion. It will only happen if we make it happen. ACCA believes that if we all work together, we can change the world. You can play your part in this hugely important endeavour by following this five-point impact plan.

Read the full plan here.

  • Jamie Lyon is head of skills, sectors and technologies at ACCA