Room for Improvement; IMA reveals initial DE&I study findings for MENA Finance & Accounting

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Panelists on IMA Panel Discussion
Panelists speaking on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion In Finance And Accounting In MENA at the USA Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. | Image Courtesy: IMA

Initial research findings from a recent online study conducted by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) has revealed a few interesting facts about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) in modern finance and accounting workspaces. 

The attitudinal study titled “Diversifying MENA Accounting Talent” is based on online research that surveyed more than 1,100 current and former accounting professionals in MENA, including a representative sample of men, women, and people of determination, as well as 15 finance and accounting professionals and academics.

Ms. Hanadi Khalife, Senior Director of MEA & India Operations at IMA speaking at the panel discussion conducted at the USA Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. | Image Courtesy: IMA

The findings, which were revealed and discussed at the USA Pavilion to commemorate Tolerance and Inclusion Week at EXPO 2020, were co-sponsored by IFAC (International Federation of Accountants) and conducted in partnership with a host of global and regional accountancy organizations.

According to the IMA research, almost two-thirds of the surveyed professionals of all backgrounds see the management accounting profession as equitable or inclusive, with people of determination more likely than their able-bodied peers to report a broad view of the profession as equitable or inclusive.

However, the survey also revealed that less than half of female respondents believe that they receive equitable treatment in the profession or operate in an inclusive environment fostered by senior leadership, with access to the same opportunities, information, support, and resources as their male counterparts.

The IMA research highlighted the outstanding qualifications of female accounting professionals and those identifying as people of determination, citing that;

  • Nearly equal percentages of male and female respondents report they hold at least one professional accounting certification.
  • Female respondents are 36 percent more likely to hold a master’s or doctorate degree.
  • Only 15 percent fewer respondents identifying as a person of determination reported they hold at least one professional accounting certification when compared to respondents who do not identify as people of determination.

Mr. Mario Barilli, CFO for the Middle East- Accenture, Ms. Esther Ndichu, Vice President for Community Relations and The UPS Foundation at UPS, Mr. Wassim Karkabi, Managing Partner & Board Director, Middle East, Russia & Greater China at Stanton Chase, and Dr. Nada Jammoul Messaikeh, Associate Vice Provost for Research Administration and Financial Planning at New York University Abu Dhabi were the panel of top industry professionals in the region who discussed the insights shared by the IMA study.

Hanadi Khalife Image
Hanadi Khalife
Senior Director
MEA & India Ops

“The theme for this week at EXPO2020 Dubai is ‘Tolerance and Inclusion’ – crucial requirements of every society and workplace. Through this study, we aim to highlight the progressive thinking needed to reach a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace while promoting best practices. Our findings indicate that recruiting and promoting talented people based on relevant and unbiased factors rather than demographics present a valuable opportunity. The long-term future of the accounting profession will be shaped by the ability of organizations to look inwards and work to accelerate the DE&I transformation already underway within the workplace.”

During her address, Ms. Khalife also stressed the importance of DE&I in retaining female talent, with the IMA study revealing that almost a third of female respondents (31 percent) have left a company due to the perception of unfair treatment.

The IMA official highlighted that the challenge is particularly acute for professionals of determination, with more than two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents in this category saying they have moved company due to poor DE&I standards.

The Industry experts at the panel praised the positive action being taken by regional governments as part of their strategies for economic and social reform, with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia applauded for setting ambitious targets for the inclusion and advancement of women and people of determination.

The experts remarked that the management accounting profession must continue to raise standards to meet the expectations of host countries.

The final findings of the comprehensive IMA study are expected to be published early next year.

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