ACCA Seeks Greater Roles for Female Professionals

The Global Chief Executive of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Helen Brand, has called for more roles for women in corporate organisations.

Brand who said this at a conference for women in finance, organised by the ACCA in Lagos at the weekend, described the issue of women in finance as an issue of diversity in the financial world.

The global ACCA boss explained: “Women account for only 20 per cent of the most senior posts held in finance. So there is a great deal of work to enable the thousands of young women entering the accountancy profession to fulfill their potential and meet their aspirations.

“We believe that diversity is not simply about gender – diverse organisations need to ensure they address equal opportunities in all areas – there is diversity of cultures, diversity of skills and experiences, diversity of ideas and business perspectives that help create and drive great finance functions and deliver enhanced business performance.

“As a body which qualifies finance professionals, we are committed to playing our part in ensuring the maximisation of the finance function.” She maintained that her organisation had put diversity at the top of its agenda, adding there had been considerable political concern over the lack of women in the boardroom in Europe.

Brand however noted that since the Davies report came out over two years ago in the UK with its aim of achieving a 25 per cent figure of women in FTSE boardrooms; there have been reports that nearly half of new appointments have been female.

“We don’t believe in quotas since it could be seen as resulting in tokenism, in bitterness and to ensure organisations can claim they are ticking all the right boxes – which serves no useful purpose.

“We want to see businesses recognising the positive reasons for diversity. Quite simply, diversity is a critical component of capability. You want to employ the best people in finance and the best people simply are not defined along some set of homogenous criteria. So diversity is a positive thing and capability is at the heart of the story,” Brand insisted.

According to her, a research had shown that companies with more women on the boards outperformed rivals with a 42 per cent higher return in sales, 66 per cent higher return on capital and 53 per cent return on equity.

She further disclosed that the report showed that proportionally, women appeared more successful in attaining executive roles with a financial background.

Brand however urged women to embrace open ways of working, saying that finance leaders that promoted diversity of thinking, and encourage their teams to express different views, would be better able to identify risks and opportunities. “Finance leaders need to think carefully about the right global/local balance for an optimal finance function. ACCA sees the issue of women in business as part of a wider diversity challenge . I look forward to the presentations and debates we have today. By raising these issues, we can tackle them and hopefully reach a position where everybody has the opportunity to reach their potential,” she added.

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