Firm grasp of the situation
Audit reform: what everyone wants to know is when it will happen. Five years on from the trigger event—the collapse of Carillion—the most recent audit soul searching is taking place and the sector still has no idea when all the pieces proposed by government will fall into place.
This week’s complaint comes from Michael Izza, chief executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, who complained to City AM that the lack of progress could undermine the UK’s competitiveness. “It just feels that someone needs to grab this by the scruff of the neck and move forward,” he said. Doubtless those sentiments will find sympathy in many audit quarters.
Diversity progress in the US
Good news for US diversity, despite the polarisation that seems to have infected business across the pond. Headhunters Spencer Stuart say more black women were appointed to boards during a single 12-month period than in any comparable period during the previous 15 years. In numbers, 46 of the 395 new directors appointed in the S&P 500 in the year ending April 2022 were black women.
The Wall Street Journal reports the change is due to companies increasingly seeking directors who reflect their workforces, as well as mandates from state legislators, regulators and investors.
And this despite high profile pushbacks against ESG.
Upping his ante
Speaking of which, Vivek Ramaswamy, ESG’s self-appointed opposition leader and described by the Daily Express as an “anti-woke warrior”, has said he will take a tilt at the US presidency in 2024.
Ramaswamy, almost certainly a rank outsider for the White House, is the author of a book, Woke Inc, decrying the rise of ESG, and founder of Strive, a fund manager said to eschew ESG principles.
Vivek is on record calling on corporate chiefs to stop making “political statements”. Though his answer to all of that is to get, well, political.
Arms against a sea of troubles
Back here in the UK, The Times reports that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has “tested” the assumption that investing in defence industries couldn’t be ESG. This is some way from claims last year that the need for arms had literally killed off ESG as a guiding principle in business.
But The Times article does raise a point. Defence companies have been excluded from some funds but the “S” in ESG stands for Social and there’s nothing more fundamental than defending society which, of course, requires arms. Good ones, too.
Alex Cresswell is chief executive of Thales UK, makers of the now famous NLAW anti-tank weapons successfully used by Ukrainian troops. He tells The Times: “The ability of society at large to make a connection between safety and security and, eventually, property, is a much easier one to make.”