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Discover why Yvonne is championing EDI


Published: 28 Jan 2022

Did you know that ICAEW Manchester is one of only a handful of District Societies in the UK to have an EDI Champion? We spoke to ICAEW Manchester’s EDI Champion, Committee member Yvonne Rennison-Stone, to find out more about the role and why it matters.
Yvonne Rennison-Stone

About Yvonne

Yvonne is a professionally qualified accountant and a professionally qualified tax accountant. She teaches Taxation and Entrepreneurial Theory and Practice at the University of Central Lancashire. In recognition of her contributions to teaching, Yvonne is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Yvonne graduated from Edinburgh University with a first-class master’s degree in 1991 and joined the tax department of Arthur Andersen in Manchester. After successfully gaining her ACA qualification, she joined Ernst and Young as a Tax supervisor in 1994. After qualifying as a Chartered Tax Advisor in 1996, Yvonne changed careers in 1997 and joined BPP Professional Education as a lecturer in Professional Accountancy exams. Her main subject was Taxation as well as Financial Accountancy and Economics for all Accountancy Professional Qualifications.

After five great years at BPP, Yvonne set up her own company to provide professional tuition to all private tuition firms including Kaplan Financial. She has taught in across the world including the Far East, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Cyprus.

In 2009, Yvonne made the switch to the public sector and joined Manchester Metropolitan University as a Senior Lecturer. She progressed to Principal Lecturer in 2011, became Associate Head of Department in 2014, and finally Head of Business and Public Engagement in 2016.

In September 2017, Yvonne joined the University of Central Lancashire within the School of Business as a Principal Lecturer. Yvonne's role includes the development of Executive Education courses within the Lancashire School of Enterprise, including The Institute of Leadership and Management qualifications. Her role encompasses knowledge transfer activities including bid and tender writing. She is the founder of the School's Tax Club in partnership with ICAEW Lancashire & South Lakeland and member of the Lancashire School of Business and Enterprise EDI group.

Yvonne has been involved with the ICAEW Manchester Committee for a number of years and was appointed EDI Champion for the group in 2019.

For those not familiar with the phrase, can you explain what EDI is?

EDI stands for equality, diversity and inclusion.

Essentially, equality is about providing equal opportunities and access to opportunities to everyone, and making sure that no one is treated differently because of their characteristics.

The diversity part focuses on placing a positive value on people’s differences. Whereas inclusivity is about embracing everyone and not excluding anyone on the grounds of gender, race, class, sexuality, disability etc.

One example of how inclusivity would work is that one Committee member mentioned that as she has children, she sometimes felt excluded as the times of the meetings meant she couldn’t always attend if she wanted to pick her kids up from school!

So, in this instance, inclusivity was recognising people’s different circumstances and acting on them by making meetings accessible to parents and those with caring responsibilities. It was something that those of us without those responsibilities hadn’t picked up on, but it was also something that we could factor into our plans going forward. Sometimes comparatively small and simple changes can make a big difference!

In a nutshell, EDI means that everyone should be respected, given access to the same opportunities and their differences are respected.

How did your role within the Society come about?

As a member of ICAEW Manchester, it was evident the Committee was not as representative of the members it serves as it could be and it as important that we addressed this.
We talked about attracting new members to the Committee and quickly realised if local ICAEW members did not identify with those already on the Committee then it would be difficult for them to feel that they could be part of it in the future. It’s also important that the group reflects and represents our members.

To help address this, I was asked to be EDI Champion and have written the ICAEW Manchester EDI policy. The starting point was to review the ICAEW Equality, diversity, and inclusion (includes anti-bullying & harassment) policy Version 1.2, February 2020 and adopt the wording as the principles the ICAEW Manchester District Society would adhere to.

What does an EDI Champion do and why is it important?

The role is to ensure that our District Society follows the principles in the policy and establish how we will adhere to these policies.

The initial action points that we’ve already achieved include appointing an EDI Champion and making Equality and Diversity a standing agenda item at Committee and Executive committee meetings. We’ve also scheduled Women in Business Events and in November 2021 we provided Unconscious Bias training to all Committee members and those in the wider membership who wished to take part. Going forward, new Committee members will be encouraged to take a similar course.

Longer-term we plan to promote the policy to Committee members and our members and how help them explore how to implement it. We’re also working on producing a questionnaire that will be sent to all Committee members about their experience of our Committee and working environment. The findings will be our blue print for making any necessary improvements.

What are your aims and goals for the role?

My main aim is that we shouldn’t have to make a conscious effort to adhere to EDI but that is something that is innate within the committee. My goal is to ensure we adhere to the policies we have agreed upon and therefore attract new members that represent all of the ICAEW Manchester members we serve.