Monique Malcolm-Hay: My accountancy journey
In celebration of Black History Month, Monique Malcolm-Hay shares her incredible story of success as a black female in the accounting industry.
By profession, I am an ICAEW Chartered Accountant working as a Consultant at PwC. Over the past five years, I have worked on a number of high-profile insolvencies, helped people and organisations globally prepare for the future of work.
I co-founded a non-profit organisation, become a shadow board member for the ICAEW Tech Faculty and won the We Are The City Rising Star in Professional Services award.
Having studied abroad at the University of Florida, undertaken a secondment at the PwC Middle East firm and volunteered in Brazil and Kenya, I now consider myself to be a global citizen who is endlessly giving back, connecting people and empowering those around me.
New Gen Accountants (NGA)
As part of my mission to educate, empower and inspire, I built a team of six and spearheaded the creation of New Gen Accountants, a growing non-profit organisation which provides career development advice and underrepresented millennial and Gen Z professionals. The New Gen Accountants network has a strong mix of ethnic backgrounds.
The organisation now has over 3,000 followers across its social media platforms. It helps ambitious individuals to consider accountancy as a career choice, manage their wellbeing while studying and working, and progress their careers after qualifying.
It wasn’t until meeting a PwC senior manager at a careers fair that I decided I wanted to become an accountant. And if I hadn’t spoken to that senior manager, I don’t know where I would have ended up. I now want to inspire other people coming through.
I led NGA’s first event #MyAccountancyJourney in 2018 where 100% of attendees stated they left the event feeling empowered to take positive action within their own careers.
I also ran the #MyAccountancyJourney social media campaign. The campaign profiled accountants from ethnic minority backgrounds in an aim to empower more underrepresented individuals to consider accountancy as a career.
In 2019, my team launched a WhatsApp group which enables prospective and qualified accountants to share tips and advice. The website contains interviews with CEOs and partners so that members can learn from their career journeys.
A quarter of FTSE 100 board members are chartered accountants. But how do we know how to progress our career to that level after qualifying? New Gen Accountants aims to shed some light on that.
Pushing black accountants forward and boosting ethnic diversity
Our team delivers career talks at companies and institutions such as JP Morgan, Kaplan, Cambridge Judge Business School and Grant Thornton. As the majority of the founding team are black, we also advise companies on how to boost ethnic diversity within their organisation.
We recommend several key approaches. To start with, many organisations find it difficult to recruit people from ethnic minority backgrounds. There are plenty of qualified and extremely talented people from ethnic minority backgrounds – it’s all about knowing where to find them.
There are also many organisations such as recruitment companies which can help. It is also crucial to capture data on ethnicity to identify patterns and trends – how many black people do you recruit every year and how often are they promoted, for example?
Belonging and progression in the workplace
Abraham Maslow was the first to point out that having a sense of belonging in the workplace is an important need. However, research conducted by Harvard University shows we have a natural tendency to navigate towards those we are most similar to.
As a result, minorities, often find themselves forming weaker relationships in the workplace. Without meaning to do so, this tendency affects their progression and their sense of belonging. Progression and inclusion are then further hindered if others around them have stronger relationships with each other.
Upon reflecting on my own experiences, I know I have performed at my best when I felt valued and part of a community that respected me.
As McKinsey and World Economic Forum research illustrate, finance functions will become increasingly disrupted by technology, accelerated by Covid-19. Repetitive and mundane accounting tasks will become automated.
As a result, accountants will become more forward-thinking rather than focusing solely on what happened in the previous financial period.
In order to progress the diversity and inclusion agenda, it is vital that organisations invest in their people as well as technology to ensure that no one is left behind in the digital world.
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Monique is an ICAEW chartered accountant and winner of the 2019 WeAreTheCity Rising Star in Professional Services award working as a consultant at PwC. PMO Lead for PwC's Business Strategy Ambassadors, co-chair of PwC's Multicultural Business Network and shadow board member for ICAEW's Tech Faculty. Founded New Gen Accountants, a growing non-...