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As AI Becomes More Mainstream, ESG Considerations Are a Key Part of Ensuring Responsible Adoption

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) reveal in a new report the pressing need for the accountancy profession to make the necessary connections between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its relationship to environmental, social and governance (ESG) dimensions.

As AI Becomes More Mainstream, ESG Considerations Are a Key Part of Ensuring Responsible Adoption

Polling over 5,700 respondents across 21 countries and geographies, including panellists across the Middle East, the research reveals a cautious tone, with fewer than half (43%) believing that the impact of AI on their rights as an individual is positive – such as safety and personal security, and levels of fairness, choice and transparency. In the Middle East, 59% believe this to be the case.

ACCA and CA ANZ said in Ethics for sustainable AI adoption: Connecting AI and ESG that professional accountants, with their explicit and long-standing commitment to ethical practices, are well placed to guide organisations along a responsible path for AI adoption.

Key findings from the research amongst Middle Eastern accountancy and finance professionals shows that:

  • 59% believe that their leaders prioritise ethics as highly as profits – compared with 66% globally.

  • 52% believe that the impact of AI on the overall standard of living in society is positive – compared to 64% globally.

  • 48% have a basic understanding of an algorithm, and 27% say their organisation has implemented an ethical framework for AI use.


Fazeela Gopalani, head of ACCA Middle East
Fazeela Gopalani, head of ACCA Middle East

Fazeela Gopalani, head of ACCA Middle East, comments: ‘This presents a wake-up call for the accountancy profession to lead the way and become the super connectors needed to ensure an ethical approach. Their management of the transition to mass usage of AI in an ethical, responsible manner is essential if the sustainable long-term value is to be secured from it.’

The report’s nine recommendations include the need to set the tone at the top on AI adoption by prioritising an approach that is consistent with organisational values such as diversity and inclusion in considering the impact of AI on under-represented groups or fairness when it comes to recruitment or surveillance of employees: and transparency such as appropriately disclosing AI use to customers.

Another recommendation for the profession is to challenge greenwashing and seek insights from AI tools to help with professional scepticism in examining whether the organisation's claims about sustainability, such as on achieving net-zero targets, are matched by its performance. Suspect claims need to be challenged.

Helen Brand, chief executive of ACCA