CIMA has moved a step closer to implementing an ethnic monitoring policy for its members after this month's council meeting approved a paper about the issue. The move also followed consultations with other institutes and the other five CCAB accounting bodies - many of which have taken, or are planning to take, similar steps. The paper raised the importance of ethnicity issues for CIMA, as an employing and membership organisation with overseas offices and business activities. It is understood the monitoring policy is likely be introduced to its 70,000 students as they become full members, but is unlikely to include an operation to cover its current 50,000 full members. CIMA secretary John Chester said: 'Policies concerning ethnicity can, in some cases, be perfunctory, encouraging the very circumstances and inequality they seek to prevent. 'In creating a fair and equal society, positive discrimination is as unacceptable as the more readily recognised negative variety. 'As such CIMA wishes to ensure that the policy it creates concerning discrimination and ethnicity is appropriate, effective and applicable.' CIMA will now move forward early in the new year to consider the issues of ethnicity in 'their broadest form, for staff and members'. A monitoring policy was rejected when it was last debated by CIMA members four years ago, but in May the then trade minister, Ian McCartney, said he wanted to review the ethnic monitoring policy of the institutes - a move which has led to a rethink by CIMA. The rethink also falls in line with the thinking at CIPFA, which announced plans to introduce monitoring for its students in June. As part of its qualification relaunch in the summer, the body decided to introduce questions regarding the ethnic origin of its students on registration forms. The institute said details of its students will be recorded, and their files kept on record as they move into membership. ACCA director, Anthony Booth, said ACCA's commitment to equal opportunities is 'a cornerstone of its operation.' He added: 'We are aware of the importance of monitoring as a tool to assess the effectiveness of our equal opportunities policy. We liaise with the Commission for Racial Equality regularly on monitoring issues.' A recent questionnaire undertaken voluntarily by an estimated 35% of ACCA's UK members established that 20.2% of all UK members and 40% of practising certificate holders (audit, investment business and insolvency) were from ethnic minorities. Booth added: 'ACCA already has ample evidence that our admissions and examinations policies do not discriminate. Our examinations system is entirely "blind" to the identity of students. 'All students have a secret code number and examiners have no knowledge of a candidate's name or origin. For these reasons we do not believe we need to keep information about the ethnic origin of our students.' Since 1998 English ICA students' ethnicity has been registered as required by the CRE. But from this year, all members' ethnicity is recorded and figures are due to be completed by January 2000. However, the ICAI said ethnic monitoring was not an issue for them due to the make-up of society in Eire 'not having the diversity of the UK. But as the country is becoming more racially diverse, it may be an issue we will raise in the future.' A bigger issue for the institute has been to ensure it offers equal opportunities to the 2,200 of its 10,700 membership who are female. 'Last year we launched a women in accountancy working party to report how the institute and the profession could maximise opportunities for women,' it added.
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