ICAS President, Indy Singh Hothi CA: Collaborating for positive change
President Indy Singh Hothi CA celebrates the work of CAW, chartered accountancy’s leading international body, in the realms of equality, financial literacy and trust
On 8 March, Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW) will publish a global research report on women’s mid-career journeys, coinciding with International Women’s Day. ICAS chaired the CAW task force that commissioned the report and the findings will be discussed on a webinar hosted by ICAS Deputy President, Clive Bellingham CA. The research has both a qualitative and quantitative aspect, examining the experiences of women in senior leadership roles and/or mid-career from several perspectives, including social mobility and gender equality.
It is a timely and important piece. Sometimes in the business world, diversity initiatives focus on junior or entry-level positions. But to get it right we need to think about the pathway and progression into roles at every level. I must thank our team in ICAS for leading on this. We looked across our membership base, speaking to women who run their own businesses, and to those who work in larger firms, smaller practices or industry, as well as those in the wider world.
Indeed, the study spans the UK, Asia and the Pacific – and to achieve that we have worked with our fellow CAW members to deliver the results and produce the report. I first became aware of CAW in 2015 when I was attending the One Young World leadership summit. It immediately struck a chord with me. Here was this global network of accountants talking about key issues that affect both the profession and wider society.
ICAS is one of CAW’s founding members. And the size and scope of its membership is truly impressive, accommodating 15 different institutes worldwide, representing nearly 1.8 million CAs working and living in 190 different countries. That is a truly global presence for an organisation. If you really want to effect change, more often than not you need to work collaboratively across jurisdictions and boundaries. And CAW can be a force for positive change.
Do the maths
The other initiative we will be launching with CAW later this year concerns financial education. I will be co-chairing a task force that is looking to improve the standard of financial literacy around the world, along with Caroline McGroary, Assistant Professor of Accounting at Dublin City University.
Accountants can help to move the dial on this subject. On a global level, one in three adults are financially illiterate – and nationally, we perform poorly. An OECD report placed the UK 15th for financial literacy out of 29 member countries, while a poll for the FT found 44% of British adults admitting they would be better off if they had been taught basic monetary skills such as budgeting. A good understanding of financial issues can bolster the foundations for a thriving economy and be an important enabler for social mobility.
Another CAW initiative is the Trust Taskforce, co-chaired by ICAS and CAANZ. The taskforce is producing a paper on the matter of trust and its relevance to the global CA profession. The report, which is scheduled to be published this summer, comes at a time when we are seeing so many examples of trust in public bodies being eroded, just as faith in business took a hit following the banking crash and high-profile corporate scandals. I often say that I feel we are living in a world with a leadership deficit – and that’s where our profession can play an important part, by promoting professional ethics and, in turn, building and restoring trust.
Also, on that subject of leadership, another CAW project that I have been involved with is the Difference Makers podcast. Here, we share the insights gleaned from the lived experiences of leaders, who discuss the challenges and tensions encountered, and sometimes the compromises made, during their professional journeys.
To give one example, David Nussbaum CA has been a leader in both the corporate and non-profit world. In his former role as CEO of the non-profit body, the Elders, he worked directly with former presidents, civil rights leaders and human rights activists around the world.
I hope that any younger CAs reading this will take a moment or two to look at CAW and its work. I firmly believe that whether you’re aiming to build a global network, considering international work opportunities or are simply a socially conscious CA who wants to make an impact through your work, CAW can provide the right support mechanism.
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