ACCA hosts UAE women in finance forum with Deloitte advocates

18 March 2019 4 min. read

Senior finance leaders from across the UAE have assembled for a meeting hosted by the ACCA on developing a collective vision to increase the ratio of women in finance and technology, with Deloitte’s newly elected global chair Sharon Thorne delivering a keynote address.

In an effort to address the ongoing gender gap in the finance and technology sector, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) – one of the world’s largest professional accounting bodies with more than 200,000 members worldwide – has brought together more than 50 senior finance leaders from across the UAE to promote a shared vision in pushing for greater inclusion.

Among others, those assembled heard keynotes from Anthony Hobeika, the CEO of local research and consulting firm MENA Research Partners, as well as Deloitte Middle East Consulting CEO Tim Parr, and Deloitte’s long-time diversity advocate and newly elected global chair Sharon Thorne, who when she takes over in June will become the first woman in the firm’s history to hold the position.

Also present was noted Deloitte diversity champion, Rana Ghandour Salhab, and Cynthia Corby, Deloitte Middle East Audit Director of Operations and Chair of the UAE Women in Finance Forum, who was last year named by Forbes as one of the 100 most influential women in the Middle East. “In the UAE and wider Middle East, we have seen a higher percentage of women going through the education cycle, however when we look at this transition into the workplace, we don’t see a reflective rate,” Corby said.ACCA hosts women in finance forum in UAE with leading Deloitte advocatesAccording to an ACCA report released prior to the event, women account for only 17 percent of all executive finance roles in the UAE, and hold just 2 percent of board-level positions across the GCC. Corby continues; “Business leaders need to ensure this talent is not lost, in order to truly lead diverse organisations which go beyond the numbers. Promotion of sustainable practices that encourages people of all cultures and ages to participate in all opportunities which are provided to those who demonstrate the ambition, drive, ability and dedication are paramount, so they can share their different perspectives and challenge our thinking and we can all thrive in our professional lives.”

As highlighted by the ACCA, the Women in Finance Forum coincides with the 100th anniversary of Ethel Ayres Purdie’s election as an associate to the London Association of Accountants, a founding organisation of ACCA – the first woman to be admitted to the membership of a professional accounting body. For the ACCA’s part, nearly half of the organisation’s members are now women, along with 55 percent of its senior staff and an even share of its executive.

“ACCA was established specifically to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds, based solely on their ability, said Helen Brand, ACCA’s chief executive. “We believe that it’s every organisation’s responsibility to support diversity and to review and revise the way they support and open up opportunities to women – and indeed all other under-represented groups. Opportunity and diversity are two of our core values that continue to guide our work today.”

In terms of developing a shared vision to tackle gender imbalance in the financial services industry, Corby believes now is perfect time to act. “With the changing role of finance and increased emphasis on technology, it presents an opportune time to drive a collective vision, which with the use of algorithms, blockchain and innovative tech can support in reducing biased decision making in the recruitment and progression processes within organisations.”

Related: Deloitte's Rana Ghandour Salhab named champion of diversity on global list.