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ICAEW signs Black Talent charter: Now what?


In December, ICAEW became the first professional body to sign the Black Talent Charter. AccountingWEB champion Kayleigh Graham explores what the charter represents and the changes to expect from the organisation.

15th Jan 2021
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Throughout 2020, we all witnessed (and hopefully took part) in action and conversations regarding diversity, change and the experiences of our colleagues, friends, family and fellow humans. 

I received the invitation from AccountingWeb to discuss my own experiences here and share my opinions and top tips for the profession on Lucy Cohen’s People Matters show.

I watched the ACCA put out a statement in full support of the Black Lives Matter movement and remind all of its members that diversity is a value close to its heart.

However, one of the things that delighted me the most, was watching ICAEW become the first accounting body to sign the Black Talent Charter.

What is the Black Talent Charter?

Founded by Harry Motovu and Michael Eboda, the charter is a call to action for all those that make the pledge.

The charter provides structure and focus for firms to take real meaningful action that will result in lasting change and centres on four themes:

  • Creating and maintaining an environment where black talent can be identified, developed and promoted. 

  • Supporting the recruitment of black employees and their progression into senior roles 

  • Recognising that each firm has a different starting post and the need for a tailored approach.

  • Driving transparency and accountability through public reporting of the steps it is taking.

The pledge then sets out eight key actions that the firms signing the charter need to commit too, all of which feed into the above. These actions are there to provide clear guidance to firms as to the changes it needs to be making to really make a difference. 

What does this mean for ICAEW?

As a signatory of the charter, ICAEW now has just under six months to create a five-year plan around how it intends to improve “equality of opportunity for Black professionals working for the institute.” 

It will need to establish real tangible targets, a plan on how it will achieve them and begin reporting on their progress each year moving forward. 

When discussing the progress made on diversity matter late last year, FRC chief executive Sir Jon Thompson said, “While this year’s findings reveal that some progress has been made, firms without meaningful policies in place are dropping the ball.” 

“[F]irms have a responsibility to ensure they are leading by example on diversity and inclusion and that they have appropriate policies in place to address any shortcomings,” he added. And that’s exactly what ICAEW is doing – it is leading by example and setting a standard for others to meet.

What does this mean for the profession? 

Only time will tell how effective the charter serves to be in the accounting profession. At present ICAEW is the only accounting body to have signed, though I hope that will change soon. 

However, for now, ICAEW will be getting its plans in place. It will be beginning to scope out what change will look like for the organisation and how it can begin to implement these changes over the next five years for its 180,000 members. 

Director of communities for ICAEW, David Franklin is also launching a Black members community that I hope will help further shape its goals and plans for this year and those that follow. I hope that the voices of these members will be heard and will act as a catalyst for more conversation, more work and ultimately more change.

Co-founder Harry Matovu called ICAEW’s decision to become a full signatory to the Charter for Black Talent “fantastic news”. I completely agree and I hope to see more of the profession joining it soon.

Black Lives still matter.

Replies (6)

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By User deleted
15th Jan 2021 23:14

So glad I'm self employed - so I "only" have to pay for all this kneeling and wokery via my subs. Better than having to engage with it every day, do courses and repent my "privilege" at the altar I was made to build by the water cooler etc etc.

In the meantime, I will just go about taking my clients as I find them. Do the work, raise the fees. Rinse. Repeat. The clock sees no colour. Everyone gets billed. Hopefully that is still "ok" and not "not ok" or "not very kind". Sorry, I should have started this message with "Hey!".........I'm not even 40......

Thanks (4)
By Matrix
16th Jan 2021 12:00

They have come a long way, just a few years ago the prize in a competition was a tailored suit for a man.

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By Paul Crowley
19th Jan 2021 01:35

' As a signatory of the charter, ICAEW now has just under six months to create a five-year plan around how it intends to improve “equality of opportunity for Black professionals working for the institute.”

Has ICAEW admitted that there is currently not equality of opportunity for all people?
If so they definitely need to sort themselves out.

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Mark Lee headshot 2023
By Mark Lee
19th Jan 2021 18:53

ICAEW has been working on this issue for some time. Signing the charter is a part of the process. It's neither the start nor the end.

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By Peter Bromiley
22nd Jan 2021 09:45

I read an article in The Times a couple of months ago. Some leader of a black barristers' group was complaining that only 3% of barristers in the UK were black. I googled what percentage of the UK population was black. 3%.

This reminds of that article. It's a big fuss about a non-issue. I doubt there are many, if any, accountancy firms who don't hire or promote on merit. Why wouldn't they?

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By indomitable
23rd Jan 2021 15:47

Yes the fact that it has signed it is rather an admission that it is currently not an 'equal opportunity employer'

If it is an 'equal opportunity employer' seems like virtual signalling to me

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