On International Women’s Day, ACCA underlines the need to address gender inequality in sustainability  


Women have a crucial role to play in the green economy. But leading global accountancy body ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is concerned that women are in danger of being left behind in the green transition. On International Women’s Day (IWD), ACCA is calling on governments, policymakers and employers to make a reality of the 2024 UN IWD theme ‘Invest in women: accelerate progress.’ 


ACCA highlights that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women, and women are fourteen times more likely to die in climate emergencies than men. And UN data shows how women led households lose 8% more income to heat-stress than male led households. 


Emmeline Skelton, head of sustainability, ACCA, said: “Women work extensively in sectors such as agriculture where they are disproportionately exposed to climate-related events. On the other hand, they are underrepresented in sectors that are benefitting from the transition to net zero such as construction, utilities and manufacturing. This imbalance needs to be urgently addressed.” 


ACCA is working on this inequality through its focus on gender responsive budgeting (GRB), which measures impacts of gender inequality and mitigates them through targeted policies and budgets.  


Jessica Bingham, regional lead, policy & insights – EEMA and UK, is looking at how this can help investment in women. She said: “Gender responsive budgeting can help to identify and address differences by allocating resources to help resilience building. Women often leave the workplace to fulfil unpaid caring responsibilities. In many areas of the globe, work and employment issues are exacerbated by climate change where women have limited access to resources, loss of livelihood and food insecurity.”  


The accountancy profession is not immune to these issues. Women leave the profession at a much higher rate than men. In large accountancy firms, estimates suggest around 60% of the graduate intake are women, but that figures falls to an estimated 20%-30% at manager level.  


ACCA is providing education through initiatives such as workshops on the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). ACCA is working specifically with public sector finance professionals to understand how gender responsive budgeting could be used to address the widening gender gap.  


Finance professionals have a vital role in the transition to net zero. ACCA research reveals that CFOs believe the finance function has a key role to play in business moving towards a sustainable business model creating long-term value. For instance, by grasping upskilling opportunities the finance profession can become the guardians of ESG (environmental, social and governance) corporate data.  


Skelton said: “In order to make progress we need to look at these issues from a holistic perspective. That is why ACCA supports the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) addressing gender, poverty and inequality. 


“The good news on IWD is the more I research this area the more I’m convinced women can create wonderful opportunities for themselves and for the rest of society in the green economy.” 


Watch here to see Emmeline and Jessica discuss green transition. 

Read ACCA’s transition report,