Creating connections in the year ahead

February 2021

ACCA’s Clive Webb is looking forward to an inclusive and diverse 2021.

Happy New Year, PQ readers. We’re now two weeks into 2021 and I hope you’ve had a great start to the new year.

This is a time to look ahead and consider what comes next for the profession, society and the economy. 2021 is a chance for us to rethink our values and approaches – especially in the light of the pandemic.

The rebuilding of our lives, economies and the profession can, and should, be done in ways that challenge our accepted norms. Now is an unmissable opportunity to press the reset button and to think about how we can do better. Diversity and inclusion are collectively one key aspect of this; building towards a better society where all have the same range of opportunities available to them.

For us, 2021 will be a year of developing and delivering work that aligns with our values of innovation, integrity and inclusion.

These values are part of our strategy. They take the unique reasons why ACCA was created in the first place, and the difference we’ve brought to the global profession, expressing them in a way that reflects our world today.

We’re starting 2021 with a clear focus on inclusion, which we define as creating opportunity for all, removing artificial barriers, creating connections and embracing diversity. We’re showcasing this in a theme called ‘Inclusion in action’, running over January, February and March 2021.

Our aim is to show the profession’s inclusivity, building on our strong open access credentials created when ACCA began in 1904. Since then, ACCA has made it possible for everyone with the talent and ability to realise that a career in the accountancy profession was within their reach.

ACCA is a global and connected community. It is diverse in terms of people but also in terms of thought. And from this difference means that as a profession we have a unique strength, enabling us to lead and drive inclusion now as we did at our beginning.

Until the end of March, we will be running events and publishing professional insights reports under this banner of inclusion, a value which remains at the core of everything that we do and which enables us to share member’s stories to highlight their part in inclusion and diversity.

ACCA’s commitment in December 2020 to the UN Sustainable Development Goals is one aspect of the value of inclusion being aligned to this our strategy. Goal 5 – Gender Equality and Goal 10 – Reduced Inequalities are just two we have committed to, and these particularly speak to aspects of diversity and inclusion and how we need to work together to address the fundamental issues that this planet faces.

To align with this theme, we’ll be publishing professional insights reports, the first of which is called Leading Inclusion.

Here we’re examining issues of inclusivity for the accountancy and finance profession. The report offers an overview of the characteristics of diversity, alongside the political and geographical challenges, too. It examines bias, and how to manage our own biases, asking us all to look at our own approaches to diversity and inclusion through practical recommendations at the organisation and individual levels.

Opinions from over 10,000 ACCA members, affiliates and future members on a wide range of issues relating to diversity and inclusion are also included in the report. The main question asked was, ‘Are we truly a profession that is open to all?’ and the majority – 73% – believe this is the case.

This report also reveals the fact that we all have a part to play in furthering the diversity and inclusion agenda, especially as 46% felt that they knew how to progress this important agenda.

As leaders in organisations and societies, as those who influence the behaviours of others, accountancy and finance professionals should stand up for these values of diversity and inclusion.

The diversity of experience, expertise and perspective in the ACCA global community is unmatched. Our community brings together members, future members, employers, education providers, policy makers, thought leaders, other professional bodies and NGOs from around the world. As such, this is a powerful and super-connected community who can add real value to discussions which need to be ongoing.

We’re all part of this, and we can bring our own insights into the way ahead. ACCA sees this diversity and inclusion agenda very much as an ongoing opportunity to seize, and something we can all get behind in 2021 and beyond.

So do look out for our report in two weeks’ time, which we hope will help you to get discussions going where you work and at home too.

• Clive Webb is ACCA’s senior insights manager