ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) brought together senior finance leaders from across the UAE to discuss the need to drive a collective vision when looking at women in finance and technology in order to close the gender gap.
Helen Brand OBE, ACCA’s chief executive, says: “ACCA was established specifically to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds, based solely on their ability. We recognise that ACCA is fortunate in our strong position when it comes to balance - 46% of ACCA members and 56% of ACCA students are women, and our Council and executive team are also balanced in terms of men and women. Opportunity and diversity are two of our core values that continue to guide our work today. We believe that it’s every organisation’s responsibility to support diversity and to review and revise the way they support and open up opportunities to women – and indeed all other under-represented groups.”
Cynthia Corby, Chair of the Women in Finance Forum led by ACCA in the UAE states: “In the UAE and wider Middle East, we have seen a higher percentage of women going through the education cycle, however when we look at this transition into the workplace, we don’t see a reflective rate. Business leaders need to ensure this talent is not lost, in order to truly lead diverse organisations which go beyond the numbers. Promotion of sustainable practices that encourages people of all cultures and ages to participate in all opportunities which are provided to those who demonstrate the ambition, drive, ability and dedication are paramount, so they can share their different perspectives and challenge our thinking and we can all thrive in our professional lives.”
She concludes: “With the changing role of finance and increased emphasis on technology, it presents an opportune time to drive a collective vision, which with the use of algorithms, blockchain and innovative tech can support in reducing biased decision making in the recruitment and progression processes within organisations.”
The event was attended by senior finance and technology leaders from across industry where the attendees heard from Sharon Thorne, Deputy CEO & Managing Partner, Global & Strategy, Deloitte who was recently announced as the Chair of the Global Board of Directors for Deloitte – the first woman in the history of the firm to hold this position; Anthony Hobeika, CEO of MENA Research Partners; Maryam Mohamed Fekri, COO of Dubai Financial Market (DFM); Sirine Fadoul, Fintech Lead CEMEA at VISA; Tim Parr, CEO of Deloitte Consulting; Mirna Sleiman, CEO of Fintech Galaxy and Nadine Mezher, Co-Founder of Sarwa with supporting alliances from The University of Manchester, IMA, Sage, Hawkamah, Deloitte, the 30% club GCC and the Dubai Business Women’s Council.
Speaking at the event, Ahmed N. Ibrahim, Business Development & Corporate Relations – Middle East Centre, said: “Business organisational structures have been built by men for men - but there is a clear and growing business case for greater gender diversity and inclusion in today’s workplace. More women are choosing an entrepreneurial career path, setting up their own businesses and climbing the corporate ladder, and are now getting into the decision making positions that will help that accelerate change.”
Key facts about ACCA
ACCA has a strong commitment to gender diversity, both as a professional body and as an employer. Its Council, made up of 34 members, is represented by 21 women (61%).
- 55% of ACCA’s senior staff are women
- ACCA’s Executive Team is 50 / 50 balance
- 46% of ACCA members and 56% of ACCA students are women
ACCA was the first global professional accountancy body to:
- admit a women to membership – Ethel Ayres Purdie
- appoint a woman president – Vera Di Palma
- appoint a woman chief executive – Anthea Rose
- appoint a woman from Asia Pac as its president in 2016 – Alexandra Chin