By Babajide Komolafe
Leaders in the field of finance must embrace diversity in order to remain competitive in the global economy. Global Chief Executive Officer, Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants (ACCA), Helen Brown said this in Lagos while speaking at ‘Women in Finance’ conference organised by ACCA Nigeria.
Brown noted that diversity is becoming an increasing challenge for the financial world.
“In a globalised business environment, so the finance function is increasingly global – new markets, new regulations, and new business demands. Mastering the technical requirements of operating across many countries is one challenge, but finance leaders and finance functions must also bring together finance personnel in different countries, different cultures, different working practices, different languages to work together to provide a consistent service to the business.
“Dealing with this huge cultural diversity and multi geographic delivery represents a huge challenge to finance leaders trying to drive world class finance functions. It has a significant bearing on the type of chief finance officer (CFO) businesses need at a global level – they must be able to deal with these differences effectively and be able to leverage these differences positively for the business”, she said.
Brown said that one major aspect of the diversity challenge is gender diversity and that is why it is one of the focus of ACCA. “Our membership itself is the most diverse of any international accountancy body. We have more than half a million members and students in 170 countries bringing with them a multitude of socio-economic, ethnic and cultural experiences. Our raison d’être when we were founded more than 100 years ago was to give opportunity to people of talent and application whatever their background – and we really believe in the value that diversity brings.
“Secondly, on the gender issue, 45 per cent of our members and half our student intake is female. Given the rate at which the proportion of students is changing – many have said that the future of finance is female. And yet – 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 fulfil 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.