Author of 'Our time to RISE' stevepipe.com
Share this content

EY, CIMA and ICAEW stand up for kindness and fairness

EY, CIMA and the ICAEW have signed a letter coordinated by the UN Global Compact Network UK and UKSSD, urging the Prime Minister for a socially just and green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

18th Jun 2020
Author of 'Our time to RISE' stevepipe.com
Share this content
Team of researchers studying global food security observe the growth of lettuce crops in a vertical farming facility.
istock_AzmanL_aweb

On Tuesday 9 June 150 leading businesses and organisations wrote to the Prime Minister urging the government to put fairness and kindness at the heart of our national and international Covid-19 recovery plans. 

The letter is addressed to the UK Prime Minister but, in reality, it is to every politician in every country. Its signatories called for kindness and fairness in the form of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (also known as the ‘SDGs’ or ‘Global Goals’) – which are neatly summarised in this three-minute video featuring hundreds of famous people.

Personally, I find it shocking (and saddening) that only one accounting firm, EY, has put its head above the parapet in the letter. However, many accountants do support it, and both the ICAEW and CIMA were among the 150 initial signatories.

In fact, ICAEW CEO Michael Izza went on record when signing to say:

"The Sustainable Development Goals are an important framework to ensure governments and businesses are pursuing the long-term public interest, so we hope the Prime Minister will use them as a foundation for the UK's post-Covid recovery plans. As chartered accountants, we think it's vital businesses look beyond profit and have a wider social purpose, and we're pleased to have so many organisations join our call to government to put these goals front and centre." – Michael Izza, CEO of the ICAEW

Three reasons why this is vital for accountants

ICAEW, CIMA, EY and the other 150 signatories are spot-on, because creating a better future based on the Global Goals is clearly the right thing to do for the accounting profession. Clearly the right thing to do for our clients. And clearly the right thing to do for humanity.

It is clearly the right thing to do for the accounting profession because it creates huge opportunities to develop new reporting, assurance and consulting services focussing on the impact businesses have on the world.

It is also the right thing to do for the businesses we and our clients run because there is a large and rapidly growing body of evidence that ‘doing good’ is also really good for business. For example:

  • PwC found that 78% of people are more likely to buy from businesses that have signed up to the Global Goals
  • Nielsen, one of the world’s largest research organisations, found that brands with a commitment to sustainability grow four times faster
  • A major economic study found that the Global Goals will unlock at least $12 trillion of cost savings and extra revenues for those who embrace them

And supporting the Global Goals is also self-evidently the right thing to do for humanity, for our families, for the generations to come, for the planet and for us all. 

After all, eradicating extreme poverty, preventing people starving to death, and giving every child access to education, medical care and justice is only fair, isn’t it? 

And keeping the planet healthy so we all stay healthy is only sensible, isn’t it? 

Time to stand up and be counted

EY, CIMA and the ICAEW have taken a noble stand. But what about the rest of us? We all have responsibilities, as well as rights. Surely it is our job as a profession to play a leadership role – to inspire and to do the right thing?

If you want to play your part in making the world a better place for us all, then the best (and easiest) first step is to add your voice to the letter to the Prime Minister by signing the supporting petition. It won’t fix everything, but it is a really good first step.

Once you have done that, the next steps include: 

  • Inviting your team, clients and families to add their voices to yours by also signing the petition
  • Exploring the ICAEW’s Global Goals Hub to see what else they recommend 
  • Learning from the people behind the Global Goals

As professionals, as leaders, and as human beings, this really is our time to rise.

Replies (20)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

Steve pipe
By Steve Pipe
18th Jun 2020 10:59

FROM THE ARTICLE’S AUTHOR…

I like petitions and letters. But they are slow. And I believe we need to start taking meaningful action today.

But what kind of action?

Hopefully we’ll get some answers in the debate here.

And as my first contribution to those answers, you’re welcome to download a pre-publication copy my new book ‘Our time to RISE’ as my gift here www.ourtimetorise.global

I wrote it with Paul Dunn (who won Accountingweb’s first ever ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Profession’ award).

And it contains a really simple 4-step RISE model that any business can use to become a positive force for good in the world – easily and quickly - at the same time as becoming much more successful commercially.

You can use it to help your business.

And you can share it freely, to help your customers and contacts businesses too.

But what else should we do?

Thanks (0)
Shane Lukas, AVN - Inspiring Accountants
By shane1812
18th Jun 2020 11:20

Fantastic article Steve, wholeheartedly couldn't agree more.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Paul Dunn
18th Jun 2020 14:14

Oh my ... this is really important.

SO much has come out of the Pandemic - one thing that is inescapable is how we are all connected.

And now we can see clearly that there is a pathway forward - one that has Accountants right in the front of things which is where they always should have been, helping businesses thrive.

Let's be clear. Accountants change lives.

There's never been a time like now when that focus is so needed.

The ICAEW deserves so much praise for taking a stand. All we need now is for Members and the businesses they work for and with to stand up to.

This really can be THE tipping point to a much brighter future for us all.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Paul Dunn
18th Jun 2020 14:14

Oh my ... this is really important.

SO much has come out of the Pandemic - one thing that is inescapable is how we are all connected.

And now we can see clearly that there is a pathway forward - one that has Accountants right in the front of things which is where they always should have been, helping businesses thrive.

Let's be clear. Accountants change lives.

There's never been a time like now when that focus is so needed.

The ICAEW deserves so much praise for taking a stand. All we need now is for Members and the businesses they work for and with to stand up to.

This really can be THE tipping point to a much brighter future for us all.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Paul Dunn:
Steve pipe
By Steve Pipe
18th Jun 2020 14:42

Such a good response you posted it twice Paul! But seriously, you are 100% correct. They really do deserve praise. This really is important. And the profession really does need to take a stand. It will be interesting to see who does.

Thanks (0)
Steven Briginshaw
By Steven Briginshaw
18th Jun 2020 15:23

Great work Steve on sharing what leaders in and outside of our profession want to help make the world a better place for everyone.

It’s so important to remember too that making the world a better place is within the hands of accountants and bookkeepers throughout the world. There’s huge power in the simple and small acts we can provide clients.

Accountants and bookkeepers can give business owners clarity on their numbers leading to better decisions being made. And as a result that leads to a better business, a better life for the owner, their family and team and ultimately to a better world.

Thank you Steve for continuing to do what you do not just for the profession but for the whole planet too.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Steven Briginshaw:
Steve pipe
By Steve Pipe
18th Jun 2020 15:41

Steven Briginshaw wrote:

It’s so important to remember too that making the world a better place is within the hands of accountants and bookkeepers throughout the world. There’s huge power in the simple and small acts we can provide clients.

Well said.

Thanks (0)
Steve pipe
By Steve Pipe
18th Jun 2020 16:51

In addition to the the ICAEWs' CEO as quoted in the article, I have just seen the new ICAEW President say this…

“Accountants will play a pivotal role in rebuilding the world’s economy after coronavirus,” said Matthews, “making it better, more equal and more sustainable by identifying risks, presenting information, measuring goals and using data. I’d echo Gillian Tett’s warrior accountant call, positioning accountants as agents of change"

(Source: https://www.icaew.com/insights/viewpoints-on-the-news/2020/june-2020/new...)

And the Gillian Tett he refers to, the FT’s editor at large, is even more blunt in her “accountant warrior” call in this 3-minute vdeo for the FT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR0n8mekzro

So many big hitters seem to agree on this.

But what about you?

Thanks (0)
Simon Briton
By Simon - Quantify
18th Jun 2020 19:54

Clients tend to assume that all advisors are competent, so they choose to work with someone that they’re on the same wave length with. 5 years ago that was ‘accountants that wear jeans’ but as the world becomes more focused on community and sustainability, the advisors that wear those credentials will be the ones clients and staff gravitate towards. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is the right thing to do in business too. I’m with you.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Simon - Quantify:
Steve pipe
By Steve Pipe
18th Jun 2020 18:47

Great to have you with us Simon

Thanks (1)
Profile
By indomitable
19th Jun 2020 11:13

People with power and responsibility should have been lobbying the government ages ago. It shouldn't take a pandemic for all of us to realise that unrestricted consumerism & consumption are unsustainable in the long term.

It requires a change in each individuals habits and mindset about what's important in life

Alas I fear this will not change. In one year two years it will be forgotten and we will be back to our old ways.

I believe this is inevitable and governments cannot change this. This is about education and aspiration not about this obsession the world has with growth and greed

Thanks (0)
avatar
By dgilmour51
19th Jun 2020 11:54

One worries that this is all assumptive of a certain level of wealth/disposable funds.
Margins will be hard pressed over the next years - additionally more so at the initial burst of 'independence from Chinese manufacturers/self sufficiency' (which will soon wear off).
But I suppose that accountants, esp. those with substantive audit business, aren't really interested in their clients margins as long as they're solvent.
You can't do owt with nowt.

Thanks (0)
Profile
By indomitable
19th Jun 2020 13:48

And it's all virtue signalling.

If people really want to do something,

Don't buy a car-walk or cycle
Don't buy cheap products made by company's that don't treat their workers properly
Don't buy so much!
Fly less

No use talking about it like alot of so called ''famous people do' and the UN is a waste of space and needs reforming

Do you think China, Russia et al really care about what the UN say?

'Be the change you wish to see in the world' - Mahatma Gandhi

And what does the government do. - Please go out and spend!

Thanks (3)
Steve pipe
By Steve Pipe
20th Jun 2020 12:32

@indomitable (and everybody actually)…

… I agree 100%. We can’t expect governments to do everything (or, in some cases, to even do anything).

So it is VITAL that we each do what we can. In our businesses. And in the rest of our lives too.

For my part I have written a “Letter to my grandchildren” setting out my promises to them and the world. And as part of those promises I have:

1 - Sold my car and bought a bike, and will

2 – Spent the last 12 months researching and writing a book which I am giving away free of charge to millions of businesses – to help them put the kindness, fairness and the Global Goals at their heart of their businesses in a way that also makes them more successful (you are welcome to see for yourself by grabbing a copy as my gift here www.ourtimetorise.global)

3 - Switched my entire focus, and am now doing 30+ hours a week as an unpaid volunteer helping businesses put kindness and fairness at the heart of their business models, and acting as a cheerlead for the B1G1.com global Business for Good movement that has already made over 217 million measurable impacts towards achieving he Global Goals

But obviously this isn’t about me.

It’s about what every single one of us.

What every single one of use does: every single business, and every single human being.

And as accountants we can play a leadership role. Leading by example. Being the change we want to see. And inspiring and supporting others to do the same.

The question is not whether we can. Or indeed whether we must.

The question is whether we will?

That is the most important question facing each of us today: Will we do enough?

Or will we carry on huffing and puffing, paying lip service, blaming others, abrogating responsibility, claiming nothing can be done, kidding ourselves we’ll do more later (when we all know that tomorrow never comes) and hiding behind the thousand other excuses we are brilliant at making to justify not doing enough, and not doing it now.

Thanks (0)
Replying to stevepipehome:
Profile
By indomitable
20th Jun 2020 16:06

In my opinion it makes no difference trying to persuade businesses, governments, the UN and everyone else.

In the end it comes down to individual behaviour.

We have to change the way people think about consumption and what they aspire to do and to be.

If people change their behaviour businesses will automatically change. It's a waste of effort trying to persuade businessmen, entrepeneurs to be better.

People are generally motivated by greed, want a bigger house, bigger car, nicer watch, diamonds, better holiday, new iphone. It's what we call capitalism & consumerism which really started to explode in the 1970's and has exponentially increased since then. It's ingrained in everything.

Don't know how old your children are but try and talk to a teenager about why they don't need the latest iphone even though they had a new one last year. They are brainwashed by everything they come into contact with. Their friends, the TV, facebook, instagram, influencers even the government.

The message is spend and buy. And it's an emotional spend (that's how advertising works). Buy because people feel better about themselves if they drive that better car etc. They don't care where their products are sourced or whether they need them.

I'm afraid the Genie is probably out of the bottle. This is really difficult to change, but requires education of people and why economic growth for growth's sake is not necessarily a healthy thing.

I am also guilty.

And the one other elephant in the room is population growth

In 1970 there were 3.7BN people in the world. In 2019 there were 7.8BN. Figure that, more than double the people to feed, house, keep warm, consume, pollute

I do not have the answers to these difficult issues I'm afraid but I think lobbying the UN or trying to persuade a few businesses to be more sustainable is not going to cut it.

Thanks (0)
Steve pipe
By Steve Pipe
21st Jun 2020 09:39

@indominatble and everyone else

I do and I don't agree.

I DON’T AGREE with any kind of fatalistic analysis that says there's nothing we can do via businesses and governments etc, so we shouldn't even try.

Take businesses for example, my main area focus… over the last few years my efforts have resulted in over 18,000,000 small acts of kindness that have made a real, measurable and independently tracked difference towards the SDGs (you can see exactly how that figure is made up on the real time Impact Scorecard here https://stevepipe.kartra.com/page/Impact )

And even those numbers are tiny compared to the 208 million small acts of kindness carried out by thousands of businesses here https://www.b1g1.com/businessforgood/ (all independently measured and verified).

Included within that total is an average of over 50,000 days of food, water, education, sanitation or other help per business… by thousands of businesses. Every single one of which cares enough to take a stand.

Imagine if every business in the world made that kind of difference. There would be billions of acts of kindness. And every single one of the UN global goals would be achieved very quickly.

That is our opportunity. And it is massive.

BUT I DO AGREE with the idea that it is down to each of us as individuals to make a start by doing what we can. And I believe that what we can do that together in that way is profound.

As human beings we can make our personal behaviour better. Starting with you and me making our personal behaviour better.

As human beings we can improve the behaviour of the businesses we work in, own or buy from. Starting with you and me and the businesses we influence.

As human beings we can improve the behaviour of governments by lobbying and voting. Starting with the lobbying and voting that you and I do.

And as human beings we can be leaders who inspire, encourage and support other human beings to do the same. Starting with the leadership that you and I provide.

Ultimately therefore, as you say, it is down to you and me.

And we come back to the same key question I asked before…are we doing enough, you and I?

Each and every one of us… are we really doing enough?

Because if not, now is the time to do more

Thanks (0)
By miketombs
22nd Jun 2020 14:42

It would be too easy to row back from supporting the poorer nations as we rebuild our domestic economy, but now more than ever we need to play our role on the global stage. It was a great start hosting the Global Vaccination Summit earlier this month, we are one of the very few countries fulfilling our promise of spending 0.7% of GDP on overseas development and now we can show the World that despite the ravages caused at home with the Covid-19 pandemic we still recognise the critical importance of continuing to support the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Margaret Atwood put it perfectly: I hope that people will finally come to realise that there is only one race - the human race - and that we are all members of it.

Thanks (1)
Replying to miketombs:
Steve pipe
By Steve Pipe
22nd Jun 2020 15:11

Couldn't agree more Mike.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By meadowsaw227
23rd Jun 2020 10:07

The ICAEW were not particularly kind to the two members in the earlier article.
However they can now tick another box ! .

Thanks (0)
Replying to meadowsaw227:
Steve pipe
By Steve Pipe
23rd Jun 2020 10:15

No idea which article you are referring to, but regardless I think your comment nicely illustrates the key point in this article and all the comments on it ... we ALL need to do more to make sure that kindness and fairness really are built in to everything we do. Lip-service simply won't cut it.

Thanks (0)