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Impactful allyship is about taking meaningful action

Does lasting change really take time to start and gain momentum? Does the plan of action need to be clearly marked out in all of its details for work to start? – Deborah Harris Ugbomah

October 21

Does lasting change really take time to start and gain momentum? Does the plan of action need to be clearly marked out in all of its details for work to start?

And is a few days, a month, long enough to steer a nation’s attention back to the fundamentals, to remind communities what is important, how to be better as individuals, professionals, citizens and community members? Simon Sinek, the American author and inspirational speaker, reminds us that for success we need to start with why, ie be crystal clear about our purpose and reasons for taking action. Sometimes, as seen from the last 18 month, the reason is stark. The reasons for taking unprecedented action often have to impact the lives, and loves, of key decision makers before action is taken.

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit - a non-profit organisation that supports informed debate on energy and climate change issues in the UK - notes many voices will be heard in the negotiations taking place at COP26 from the end of this month until 12 November 2021.

Called ‘the world’s last best chance to get runaway climate change under control.’ the UK government notes four key goals of Cop26 one of which is turning ‘... ambitions into action by accelerating collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society to deliver on our climate goals faster.’. So it is worth being reminded, as Carbon literacy project notes: ‘Climate change already disproportionately affects minorities and indigenous communities around the globe’.

Many of these less economically developed nations are understandably cynical, noting climate change being a direct result of the poor stewardship of the earth’s resources and people, by heavily industrialised nations. Nations who now look to the rest of the world to help solve a problem they have caused. The continued lag in delivery of $100bn finance support for less developed nations serves to underline the complexities of this global collaboration.

A quote from President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are’, summarises the global approach to climate change action. Specifically, the legally binding Paris Agreement at COP21 in 2015 recorded the global commitment to cut emissions and the increase in greenhouse gases - caused by ‘burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests and farming livestock. Every country signed up to limiting global emissions with each individual country left to decide their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) ie how they would achieve this target.

This ‘top down’/bottom up approach reflects a model used by unitary boards to set and share corporate objectives (top down) and then steer the organisation to success. Specifically, boards hold the executive team to account for the performance of the organisation. Risks are treated, transferred, terminated or if beyond control, tolerated where necessary. Risks that impact day-to-day operations, tactical decisions and as a result the corporate strategy are mitigated as part of the corporate risk management processes (ie bottom-up).

This month is Black History Month, a short period to remember the past, recognise the current challenges and also celebrate achievements of the black community in the UK. Like climate change there will be a lot of talk, promises of action and support. Don’t wait. Don’t look to stats and surveys before you step into impactful allyship.

Les McKeown, CEO of Predictable Success, decries the media driven idea of the ‘heroic’ leader. Rather, he defines a leader as someone who helps a group of two or more people (you can be one of them) ‘achieve their common goals’. There are different types of leaders. Leadership can happen in both formal and informal settings. Most importantly ‘leadership isn’t about charisma, brilliance, intelligence or position. These characteristics can help, but they aren’t prerequisites. So anyone can lead.

Deborah Harris Ugbomah , Deputy- President LSCA 
After training in financial services audit with PwC in London, Deborah moved into investment banking, business angel investing and technology startups. Deborah has a number of non-executive director roles and is the chair of Audit & Risk Committee for a portfolio of £multi-million organisations in housing, healthcare, education as well as charity and public sector. Deborah is the first black Deputy President of the London Society of Chartered Accountants (LSCA).


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