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Accountants and Diversity

Author: ICAEW

Published: 30 Mar 2021

Diversity, breadth, range are all so important in our lives, in our professions and in how we are regulated, that it’s no surprise bringing it to the ICAEW’s Regulatory Board (IRB) is a serious priority. The IRB is committed to taking account of inclusion and diversity in its activities, writes Sarah Nathan, Chair of the Regulatory and Conduct Appointment Committee (RACAC).

Keeping diversity and inclusion in mind should enhance making excellent appointments to the IRB and the regulatory and conduct committees, not inhibit them. So last year the IRB decided to set up an independent nominations committee to ensure appointments to this important part of ICAEW are as good, as diverse and as transparent as possible.

I was appointed Chair of the Regulatory and Conduct Appointment Committee (RACAC) last autumn and our first task was to launch the recruitment campaign for the new IRB members to join in 2021.

Doing this is an interesting role to me because I have combined making appointments in high profile places – from the Judicial Appointments Commission to the Cabinet Office and now the QC Appointments panel – with a lengthy background in professional self-regulation and fitness to practice tribunals. Before that, I was a broadcast journalist and editor, but that is rather in the mists of time now.

It’s important to me to get this right because the IRB is responsible for the oversight of ICAEW’s regulatory and conduct functions.

This year, it is paramount that our approach to making appointments to the IRB and the regulatory and conduct committees reflect our diverse society and this profession. And there are many sorts of diversity of course. Our first challenge is to increase the number of women. Given nearly half of all ICAEW Chartered Accountants are female, more involved in this crucial work is obviously beneficial to all. Plus we need to maintain the recent advances in recruiting people from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

But there is also the diversity within the profession: the IRB and the professional conduct and regulatory committees need members from smaller firms; from all over the country; from different practice specialties within the profession. It all helps to make a richer mix of voices and contributes breadth to decision-making.

As half the IRB and the committees are lay, of course there are opportunities for outreach through social media, through interest groups such as Women in Boards. But this is the place to start to look for ICAEW Chartered Accountant members of all backgrounds.

So if you have never thought about it before but could see yourself contributing to this work for your regulator, please keep an eye out for the adverts – we will be looking from around mid-summer to early autumn. The IRB and the different committees have different commitment levels. For the IRB for example, it’s not too onerous: maybe five board meetings a year and the preparation for those and then at least another five days or more during the year on other committees or ad hoc work. It is likely that some board and committee meetings will continue to be held virtually. This will reduce the overall time commitment and the need to travel frequently into London which might help attract a greater geographical diversity which is also very important rather than the meetings all being London/South East – centric. Current members say the work is really interesting and stimulating.

As I said, this year we are particularly aware of the need for more women but there is an annual recruitment and a constant need for a range of strong applicants from all parts of the profession. You got as far as reading this, why not take it one step further and make contact to discuss the opportunities. Our regulatory and disciplinary committee vacancies page is a good place to start.

By Sarah Nathan, Chair of the Regulatory and Conduct Appointment Committee (RACAC)