Changes to the ICAS Code of Ethics – equality, diversity and inclusion
Ann Buttery, Head of Ethics, ICAS Policy Leadership, explains the amendments to the ICAS Code of Ethics to highlight the importance of CAs respecting values of equality, diversity and inclusion.
ICAS Council has approved changes to the ICAS Code of Ethics to make it clear that CAs are required to respect values of equality, diversity and inclusion.
The following changes to the ICAS Code of Ethics will be effective from 1 January 2021 (detail provided below):
- an addition to the application material in Subsection 111 in relation to the fundamental principle of Integrity;
- an addition to the requirement in Subsection 115 in relation to the fundamental principle of Professional Behaviour; and
- an addition to the application material in Section 200 in relation to organisational culture and Professional Accountants in Business.
To be clear, these amendments to the Code do not represent a change in the substance of the Code. Ethics and integrity are at the heart of the professional responsibilities of ICAS Members. By requiring CAs to adhere to the five fundamental ethics principles, the extant Code already prohibits behaviour by CAs which is contrary to values of equality, diversity and inclusion, even though there is no specific reference within the extant Code to these values.
These changes are being made to the Code to bring attention to values of equality, diversity and inclusion; to highlight that upholding these values is in the spirit of what it means to be a member of ICAS; and to emphasise the behaviours expected of individual CAs.
Revisions to the text of the ICAS Code of Ethics
Subsection 111 – Integrity (change highlighted in bold)
R111.1 A professional accountant shall comply with the principle of integrity, which requires an accountant to be straightforward and honest in all professional and business relationships.
111.1 A1 Integrity implies fair dealing and truthfulness. Fair dealing includes respecting values of equality, diversity and inclusion.
Subsection 115 – Professional Behaviour (change highlighted in bold)
R115.0 Professional accountants shall conduct themselves with courtesy and consideration towards all with whom they come into contact when performing their work.
R115.1 A professional accountant shall comply with the principle of professional behaviour, which requires an accountant to comply with relevant laws and regulations and avoid any conduct that the accountant knows or should know might discredit the profession. A professional accountant shall not knowingly engage in any business, occupation or activity that impairs or might impair the integrity, objectivity or good reputation of the profession, and as a result would be incompatible with the fundamental principles.This includes avoiding any conduct that would be counter to values of equality, diversity and inclusion.
115.A1 Conduct that might discredit the profession includes conduct that a reasonable and informed third party would be likely to conclude adversely affects the good reputation of the profession.
Section 200 – Professional Accountants in Business (change highlighted in bold)
200.5 A3 The more senior the position of a professional accountant, the greater will be the ability and opportunity to access information, and to influence policies, decisions made and actions taken by others involved with the employing organisation. To the extent that they are able to do so, taking into account their position and seniority in the organisation, accountants are expected to encourage and promote an ethics-based culture in the organisation. Examples of actions that might be taken include the introduction, implementation and oversight of:
- Ethics education and training programs.
- Ethics and whistle-blowing policies.
- Policies and procedures designed to prevent non-compliance with laws and regulations.
- Policies, procedures and training designed to promote and uphold a culture of fairness, including respect for values of equality, diversity and inclusion.
As well as the ICAS Code of Ethics, as part of its The Power of One business ethics initiative, ICAS has published a number of ethics resources to support Members. Search ‘Ethics and The Power of One’.
ICAS offers an Ethics Helpline Service.
ICAS has also partnered with Protect to provide ICAS Members and Students with access to an independent whistleblowing advice helpline. This service offers free advice regarding whistleblowing and speaking up.