ICAS signs Charter for Black Talent in Finance and the Professions
The Charter requires organisations to apply the same standard business techniques to the growth of Black talent as they would apply to projects for revenue growth.
ICAS is proud to become a signatory of the Charter for Black Talent in Finance and the Professions and encourages CA Firms to do the same.
The Charter for Black Talent in Finance and the Professions was launched in October 2020 by Harry Matovu QC, Barrister at Brick Court Chambers, and Michael Eboda, CEO of Powerful Media, following the killing of George Floyd.
After George’s death we saw the outpouring of emotion around race, globally: in the United States where George lived and died, and at home in the UK. The events were so great that they overtook the global pandemic in news headlines around the world. People felt anger and frustration, even if they did not know George Floyd; they knew of experiences of everyday racism of their Black friends, colleagues and family members. And Black people know the experience from their day-to-day lives.
Harry and Michael knew that the time for words and promises was over. As Black men and senior professionals, they knew it was vital for business to move beyond general statements of anti-racism and to take meaningful action to create durable pipelines of opportunity for talented Black professionals from entry-level to senior grades. They also saw the impact the government’s Women in Finance Charter had made on the profession and they drew on this model to challenge UK businesses to increase the representation of Black people in the most senior and leadership positions in Finance and the Professions.
We want to be involved in this Charter, not because it is a quick fix for ICAS as an employer or for the sector as a whole. Rather because we welcome the opportunity to challenge ourselves to do more, to take the lead in creating an inclusive profession where Black talent can be identified, developed, nurtured and encouraged to succeed.
Harry Matovu QC, Barrister at Brick Court Chambers, said:
“It is fantastic news that ICAS has become a major supporter of the Charter and also to lead by example by becoming a signatory in its own right. Many in the sector recognise the need for action, and ICAS, as a global professional body for Chartered Accountants, brings huge weight and authority to this initiative.
“After years of inaction on the recruitment and progression of Black talent in finance and the professions, the aim of the Charter is to shift the dial at last through committed, meaningful action rather than aspirational statements, however sincere. This is about the under-representation of Black talent in these sectors, a problem which has been hidden for years under the blanket of the nebulous ‘BAME’ acronym. But the blanket has now been pulled away, and the particular discrimination suffered by Black professionals has now been revealed through hard data and testimony.
After years of inaction on the recruitment and progression of Black talent in finance and the professions, the aim of the Charter is to shift the dial at last through committed, meaningful action rather than aspirational statements, however sincere.
The Charter requires signatory firms to establish measurable data against which they can assess progress on improving equality of opportunity for Black talent in their UK businesses; clear action plans with ambitious targets, in the knowledge that significant progress can be made even if the target itself is not yet achieved; and senior executive accountability for delivery of the action plans, so that this is not viewed as an HR issue, but an issue fundamental to the growth of the entire business.
“In short, the Charter requires firms to apply the same standard business techniques to the growth of Black talent as they would apply to projects for revenue growth. That is its power, and that is what marks it out from other initiatives in this area.
“I ask each and every ICAS Member to support this initiative by advocating for it within their own firms and across their networks. As we begin to emerge from the events of the last year, we are all considering what kind of world we want to live in. If we are serious about the values of the society in which we live and work, this is an issue of equality of opportunity for which we should each take responsibility and on which we should all be leaders.
“A heartfelt welcome to you all.”
As an educator of tomorrow’s business leaders, ICAS is well placed to have an impact on equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I).
While there are initiatives relating to the amorphous grouping of ‘BAME’ people, there are hardly any which candidly address the discrimination faced by Black professionals, the most under-represented ethnic group in finance and the professions. The Charter does this, and at its heart lies a requirement for proper data collection, the establishment of action plans with ambitious targets for recruitment and progression, and senior executive accountability for delivery of the action plan.
We must seek to enable our future CAs to become inclusive leaders who are positive about Black talent and who will search out increased diversity of thought and experience into their organisations.
Bruce Cartwright CA, ICAS Chief Executive, said:
“We want to be involved in this Charter, not because it is a quick fix for ICAS as an employer or for the sector as a whole. Rather because we welcome the opportunity to challenge ourselves to do more, to take the lead in creating an inclusive profession where Black talent can be identified, developed, nurtured and encouraged to succeed.”
ICAS is taking a lead on this because what we do and commit to matters.
Bruce added: “After the shocking events of last year, it is not enough to say we are not racist. We must be anti-racist and positive about diversity. ICAS is showing this by our action and commitment, and by encouraging our members, students and partners to join us.”
The adoption, promotion and embedding of a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion is a priority for ICAS. ICAS has formed an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group to take this priority forward, to support ICAS Members and to work towards creating a more inclusive profession.
To find out more about ICAS’s work on ED&I, how we will support the Charter and meet the pledges we make, please contact to Ian Bettison, ICAS’ Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager.
To find out more about the Charter and to encourage your organisation to sign up visit: