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July 20, 2015

Editor’s letter: Women leaders take center stage

By Vincent Huck

"Don’t get caught on the superficial. Diversity is about how comfortable you are with people who don’t think like you, and about how to bring those people into your circle, so that you’re actually doing better thinking than you would surrounding yourself with people who look like – and think like – you," is what newly appointed CEO of Grant Thornton UK Sacha Romanovitch told me when I asked if it was important to notice she was the first female to be appointed as CEO of a major UK accountancy firm.

While this statement might look a bit superficial at first, the implications it carries are tremendous, and it’s easier said than done. However it seems that at Grant Thornton UK the revolution is not to have appointed a female CEO, but rather Romanovitch’s drive to make the firm more transparent, interconnected and citizen-centric. (Page 4-5)

However on the topic of gender inequality, further south of the UK, African women leaders are still fighting for emancipation. Most participants in our sister publication The Accountant’s round table agreed that female leaders in the West had it easier than them.

Nevertheless at the Africa Congress of Accountants (ACOA15) it was interesting to note the number of female leaders in top positions, maybe even more so then in the West – the six participants in the roundtable were each leaders in their own organisations, and also present at the congress, were for example, Hajia Ibrahim chair of the Nigerian Financial Reporting Council and Asmaa Resmouki audit partner of Deloitte Morocco and president of the Pan-African Federation of Accountants, to name a few.

Of course there’s a need for more women in the profession, in Africa and globally, and more importantly to provide an "and environment" where they can stay with the firm as well as raising a family rather than an "either/or environment", as IFAC president Olivia Kirtley explains. (Page 6-10)

Gender inequality is only one of the challenges Africa is facing and despite popular belief, corruption is one of the smallest hurdles for the continent’s development. But while governments and civil society in Africa are pushing for more transparency, more democracy and ultimately more stability in the financial markets, which would bring investments and fuel development, much remains to be done. (Page 11-17)

Africa has made tremendous progress both political and economic since liberating itself from colonisation, but there’s no doubt that the 21st century’s success story has to be a risen Africa, otherwise it will only be a failure of our global system. How can we consider the world to be global and interconnected when over one billion people are excluded from the game, its rules setting and its gains?

Africa’s success will be African, and only Africa’s doing, but still the continent can build on Asia’s experience.

The Asia-Pacific region, which has been for a few years and continues to be the fastest-growing of all regions in the world, is going through tremendous change. Emphasis is put on corporate governance and governments from the region have reached a level of cooperation never seen before.

The strengthening of the regulatory requirements, as well as their implementation, generates costs and compliance difficulties for firms. But ultimately they will contribute towards an environment for accounting firms to thrive. (Page 20-25)

Finally International Accounting Bulletin would like to send its best wishes to its editor, Ana Gyorkos, who’s going on maternity leave at the end of July and will be back with us at the end of the first quarter of 2016.

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