Jenny Chu CA on the importance of sustainability and diversity
Jenny Chu CA is a consultant with Deloitte. She won the ICAS Sustainability Essay Competition in 2014. Jenny now sits on the ICAS Sustainability Committee and is actively involved in promoting sustainability.
Within her firm, Jenny is involved in supporting diversity and inclusion as well as building Deloitte's credentials in social impact and community investment.
What prompted you to become a CA?
I studied accounting and finance at university and joined Deloitte in Glasgow as an auditor when I graduated; studying an accounting qualification followed naturally for me. Deciding who to study with was easy - the ICAS qualification appealed to me instantly for its worldwide recognition as a high-quality accreditation and also (handily) because my employer offered the CA route as default.
What advice would you offer to those considering becoming a CA?
The CA qualification is very versatile. Although the majority of CA students start out as auditors, the skills that the qualification offers go beyond technical knowledge. An important part of the CA training is building transferrable skills that can be applied in any professional services or management position. For example, I currently work in finance consulting and the skills I’ve picked up from my training are as applicable as they were in audit.
An important part of the CA training is building transferrable skills that can be applied in any professional services or management position
The other, very valuable, thing about the qualification is the network that is opened to you as a result of having CA at the end of your name. A lot of my senior client stakeholders trained as accountants themselves so having the CA qualification as part of my background has helped me in establishing credibility and finding common ground with them. Attending CA events has also allowed me to meet some really interesting people that I wouldn’t otherwise have.
Sustainability is clearly very important to you. How can we make a difference?
Sustainability is very important. By definition, sustainability is the ability to meet current needs without jeopardising the potential to meet future needs. Therefore, it is the essence of long-term success.
When I think about sustainability in the business sense, it is more than just being green; a truly sustainable organisation must be sustainable financially (generate sufficient income to continue operating), socially (generate a net neutral impact to society, for example, by providing jobs) and environmentally (generate a net neutral impact to the environment).
In recognising that we have a choice and a responsibility in making that choice, we might come closer to making a difference for the better
Whether as business owners, employees or individuals, we all make decisions about what resources we consume and how we consume them. We can make a difference by taking responsibility for choosing the options that have minimal negative net impact or most positive net impact on the environment, community, society or economy.
Sometimes, the consequences aren’t clear to us and we don’t always make the most sustainable choices – but in recognising that we have a choice and a responsibility in making that choice, we might come closer to making a difference for the better.
One of the challenges we, as decision-makers, face is that social and environmental impacts do not always lend themselves easily to objective, quantitative measures that can be tracked, reported and weighed against. Accordingly, there is a tendency to focus on financial aspects – particularly when it comes to investing and financial decisions. To this end, the work done on natural and social capital accounting is a fascinating area that looks at how we can make a positive difference by representing a more holistic view of options for decision making
How important is diversity and inclusivity to you? What do you think can be done?
Diversity and inclusion is another area that I feel strongly about. For me, it’s not just about gender, race or sexual orientation but it should also include education level, social standing and access to opportunities. I come from a family where I was the first to go to university. That coupled with the fact I am a female, ethnic minority, working in a prestigious professional services firm as a qualified CA and consultant is wholly down to the equal opportunities and inclusive environments I have had through school, university and in my workplace.
Not everyone has been as fortunate. Although studies have shown that diverse teams bring numerous benefits to organisations, minority groups continue to face significant challenges in reaching leadership and board positions. We still have a lot more to do to achieve equality in the workplace.
We can only be more diverse and inclusive if you, as the future generation of leaders, are actively supporting equality as well.
Regardless of the level we are at within our organisations, we are all responsible for creating an inclusive environment. Remember that we can only be more diverse and inclusive if you, as the future generation of leaders, are actively supporting equality as well.
To this end, I actively promote and am involved in a number of diversity and inclusion initiatives at my workplace, from organising events to running initiatives such as our pilot ‘recruitment buddy’ scheme, where we partner up potential female candidates with existing Deloitte staff to address any questions they might have around day-to-day working at Deloitte.