Survey Sees Accountancy, Finance Profession as ‘Broadly Inclusive’

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By Oluchi Chibuzor

Sixty-one per cent of global respondents to a survey amongst accountancy and finance professionals indicated that they work in an environment free from harassment and discrimination.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) revealed this in a new report titled: ‘Leading Inclusion,’ that was obtained yesterday.

Through research questions and roundtable discussions, ACCA gauged global opinions from 10,000 ACCA members and future members, including 264 in Nigeria about a wide range of issues relating to diversity and inclusion, starting with the question ‘Are we truly a profession that is open to all?’

The survey showed that Nigerian respondents revealed 87 per cent believed this to be the case, one of the highest results in Africa along with colleagues in Ghana (90 per cent) and Zambia (81 per cent).

A similarly high score – 87 per cent – believe the profession was inclusive.

It stated: “Fifty-five cent of Nigerian respondents said they work in an environment free from harassment and discrimination, with 36 per cent saying this was partially the case.

“Seventy-five per cent in Nigeria saw a link between diversity and inclusion policies to organisational success, with 53 per cent confirming benefits come from better decision making and 44 per cent said having a variety of different perspectives.

“Thirty-nine per cent said the profession has a diversity issue that needs to be addressed. And when asked if as individuals they understand the steps that could be taken in the workplace to promote diversity and inclusion, 44 per cent said ‘yes’ and 42 per cent said ‘partially’ – just 12 per cent said ‘no.”

The report concluded that there was no basis for complacency, with 79 per cent of Nigerian respondents saying the profession should do more to promote diversity and inclusion amongst its membership.

Commenting on the survey findings, the Chief Executive, ACCA, Helen Brand said: “The foundation of ACCA in 1904 was to create a professional body for accountancy professionals that was open to all. We take pride in being the first body to admit women members as early as 1909, and to being a pioneer for other notable milestones in the profession’s evolution.

“The value of inclusion remains at the core of everything that we do. ACCA’s commitment in December 2020 to the UN Sustainable Development Goals is one aspect of this. Goals 5 and 10 particularly speak to aspects of diversity and inclusion and how we need to work together to address some of the fundamental issues we face.”

Also, Head of ACCA Nigeria, Thomas Isibor said: “Fundamentally we need to appreciate that the diversity agenda embraces a wide range of issues in our society, so we need to focus on these as a whole. What we see in these results for Nigeria is a profession aware of the environment in which it works and keen to engage. Our members are strong advocates for the profession, leading by example and willing to lead the inclusion agenda.”

Author of the report and senior insights manager at ACCA, Clive Webb added: “The pandemic is impacting our society in many ways. The impact on social justice is starting to be felt in many ways too, and our report argues, this is something in which accountants must play a fundamental role. As accountancy and finance professionals, it’s important that we apply our robust and ethical lens to the challenges of the diversity agenda.

“By focusing on the symptoms of the issues rather than the causes we run the risk of not making substantive and lasting change when it is very necessary. I truly hope this report places these important issues centre stage so we can take the dialogue and engagement further.”