Initial results from IMA study shows room for improvement on diversity, equity & inclusion in finance and accounting in MENA

62% of management accounting professionals of all backgrounds believe the industry is ‘equitable’ and two-thirds (67%) say it is ‘inclusive’ – but only some female professionals agree

IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants), an association focused exclusively on advancing the management accounting profession, revealed key findings from an attitudinal study titled, “Diversifying MENA Accounting Talent.”

The online study interviewed  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.

The initial research findings, which were revealed at the USA Pavilion to commemorate Tolerance and Inclusion Week at EXPO2020, 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 research, nearly two-thirds of the respondents of all backgrounds view 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, less than half of female respondents believe they:

  • Receive equitable treatment in the profession
  • 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.

  • Nearly equal percentages of male and female respondents report they hold at least one professional accounting certification
  • Female respondents are 36% more likely to hold a masters or doctorate degree
  • Only 15% 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

These insights were discussed by a panel of top industry professionals in the region, including Mario Barilli – CFO for Middle East- Accenture, Esther Ndichu, Vice President for Community Relations and The UPS Foundation at UPS , 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.

Hanadi Khalife, Senior Director of MEA & India operations at IMA, said: “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.”

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%) have left a company due to the perception of unfair treatment. The challenge is particularly acute for professionals of determination, with more than two-thirds (64%) of respondents in this category saying they have moved company due to poor DE&I standards.

Loreal Jiles, Vice President, Research and Thought Leadership at IMA shared, said: “These findings call for relevant stakeholders to act collectively to acknowledge the true impact of the current state of DE&I within their organizations and what more needs to be done to make it truly inclusive and diverse. Our profession’s goal of a sense of belonging for all people must be accomplished by fostering an unbiased, inclusive, and respectful culture.”

During the panel discussion, industry experts applauded 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 praised for setting ambitious targets for the inclusion and advancement of women and people of determination.

The management accounting profession must continue to raise standards to meet the expectations of host countries, they said.

The IMA study was conducted with the support and contributions of the American Accounting Association as a Global Research Partner, and the following Research Partners:

  • FP&A Trends Group
  • Iraqi Union of Accountants and Auditors
  • Jordan Institute of Management Accountants
  • Jordanian Association of Certified Accountants
  • Lebanese Association of Certified Public Accountants
  • Palestinian Association of Certified Public Accountants
  • Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants – Dubai Chapter
  • Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants
  • UAE Accountants and Auditors Association
  • Yemeni Association of Certified Public Accountants