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ICAS launches action plan to improve Black equality

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The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) has published an action plan to identify and understand the barriers faced by Black chartered accountants.

The plan forms part of ICAS’ commitment as a signatory of the Charter for Black Talent in Finance and the Professions, which it signed up to earlier this year.

ICAS chief executive J Bruce Cartwright said: “It is vital we are open and transparent about the experiences of our Black members, students and staff.

“Our actions are specific and clear, we must identify where there are barriers, review and understand the causes, then take action to reduce and remove the impact.

“Our plan sets ambitious targets with senior executive accountability over three years, after which we will review the impact we have made and update our actions to drive continuous improvement.”

The charter was launched in October 2020 by Harry Matovu QC, barrister at Brick Court Chambers, and Michael Eboda, chief executive of Powerful Media, following the killing of George Floyd.

It requires signatories to establish measurable data against which they can assess progress on improving equality of opportunity for Black Talent in their businesses.

Participating organisations are also required by the charter to apply the same standard business techniques to the growth of Black talent as they would apply to projects for revenue growth.

Through the publication of this action plan, ICAS is pledging to create an environment where Black chartered accountants and students can access support and benefit from mentoring from other Black chartered accountants.

In developing this plan, ICAS has considered advice from its Black members, including feedback from surveys which were carried out in 2020 and in 2021.

Harry Matovu QC, founder of the Charter for Black Talent in Finance and the Professions, said: “With the publication of this plan, ICAS has demonstrated its firm commitment to the charter and its objectives, and its appreciation of the need for clear action, transparency and accountability to deliver those objectives within its organisation and among its member firms and students.

“Many in the sector recognise the need for action, and ICAS, as a global professional body for chartered accountants, brings huge weight and authority to this initiative.”

He added: “After years of inaction on the recruitment and progression of Black talent in finance and the professions, the aim of the charter is to shift the dial at last through committed, meaningful action rather than aspirational statements, however sincere.

“This is about the under-representation of Black talent in these sectors, a problem which has been hidden for years under the blanket of the nebulous ‘BAME’ acronym – but the blanket has now been pulled away, and the particular discrimination suffered by Black professionals has now been revealed through hard data and testimony.”

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