Categories: SpeechesPublished On: 20/01/2022

Distinguished Speakers, Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning and welcome to the WOMEN OF SUBSTANCE SYMPOSIUM 2022, which focuses on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Towards Future Sustainability.

MIA as the regulator and developer of the accountancy profession is strongly advocating for DEI as many accounting and finance professionals today are women. More than 54 percent of MIA members are women.

This is a tremendous cohort of talent. Immense benefits could be unleashed if corporations prioritise DEI, even in the challenging COVID-19 landscape.

Recent findings from the latest McKinsey Diversity Wins – How Inclusion Matters report reaffirm the business case for DEI. Based on its large dataset encompassing 15 countries and more than 1000 large companies, McKinsey concluded that: “The most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform non-diverse companies on profitability.”

Some highlights of the McKinsey report showed that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies in the fourth quartile. The higher the representation, the higher the likelihood of outperformance.

McKinsey also found that “companies with more than 30 percent women on their executive teams are significantly more likely to outperform those with between 10 and 30 percent women, and these companies in turn are more likely to outperform those with fewer or no women executives. As a result, there is a substantial performance differential – 48 percent – between the most and least gender-diverse companies.”

To harness the full potential of women talent for better corporate performance and governance, MIA strongly advocates for more women on boards. In particular, more women accountants on boards, who embody the values of the profession namely integrity, accountability and trust, will contribute greatly to corporate governance and oversight.

MIA supports the work of the 30% Club Malaysia, which advocates for gender diversity for better business and corporate governance, via achieving boards composed of 30% women. According to a recent media report , data points as at 1 July 2021 showed that women comprised 25.5 percent of the boards of the Top 100 Malaysian PLCs, 4.5 percentage points away from the 30 percent target. As of 1 July 2021, women occupied 17 per cent of total board seats of companies listed on Bursa Malaysia, up 6.3 percentage points from 2015. Currently, there are four all-male boards in the Top 100 PLCs.

Therefore, there is room to improve. As businesses seek sustainable growth opportunities in the post-pandemic era, corporations need the best and brightest minds, male and female, diverse and inclusive, to drive sustainable, socially responsible, and ethical organisations that support sustainable nation building and holistic development. MIA is proud to be part of this journey.

Ladies and gentlemen, MIA advocates relentlessly for sustainable development through continuous learning and upskilling. As women make up half or even more of the workforce and the accountancy profession, it is especially critical that women who are accounting and finance professionals acquire new and expanded skillsets in order to contribute and add value. These skills are in the core and emerging areas of ESG and sustainability, technological transformation, leadership and teamwork, hybrid and distributed work, governance, technical, standards, safeguarding mental health and employee wellbeing, among others. These skillsets will be pivotal to future-proof women for the evolving world of work and business in the post-pandemic economy.

As such, today’s Symposium aims to provide women leaders with the knowledge of key trends that will impact business and their organisations. With these insights, you will be able to contribute more effectively to your executive teams and drive improved outcomes.

First up, we have a broad macro-overview on GLOBAL FUTURE MEGATRENDS: THE NEW WORKFORCE expected to transform the new normal hybrid workforce and how you should adapt to these drivers, which include: demographic shifts, climate change crisis, hyperconnectivity and technology, diversity and inclusivity, and crisis leadership.

Next up will be a panel discussion on CHAMPIONING DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION within your organisations. This includes setting a strong tone from the top supported by talent, board nomination and governance policies etc. that can maximise your diversity dividend.

This will be followed by another panel discussion on SUSTAINABLE LEADERSHIP OF THE FUTURE which will familiarise women with the expectations and skills required as they move up into executive and board roles.

We will end with a panel on ESG OVERSIGHT: FROM A COMPLIANT TO A STRATEGIC MINDSET, which discusses how women leaders can work to implement the business case for ESG initiatives and reporting at their respective organisations, to meet stakeholders’ and public demand for greater corporate accountability, especially on the environment and climate crises.

Before I end my remarks, I would like to thank our speakers for being here today. Thank you as well to all our supporters for collaborating on this symposium.

I am sure that the upcoming sessions will be inspirational and beneficial for all of us. To further your knowledge of ESG, I would like to invite everyone to join us from 8-9 June 2022, when MIA will hold our flagship event, the MIA International Accountants Conference 2022 with the theme of ESG and sustainability, specially geared to accounting professionals. Coming to you virtually for the second year in a seamless interactive online space, the Conference will bring you 80 leading speakers across 21 sessions, industry-relevant exhibits, and the opportunity for connections with 3,000 delegates. So do mark your calendars.

Finally, I would like to wish everybody a productive day and do stay safe. Thank you!