Accountancy bodies including ACCA and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) recently urged professional accounts to make the necessary connections between artificial intelligence (AI) and its relationship to environmental, social and governance (ESG) dimensions.
Polling more than 5,700 respondents across 21 countries and geographies, the research by the two professional bodies reveal indicate that 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, ACCA said.
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, noted the two organisations, adding that accountants’ management of the transition to mass usage of AI in an ethical, responsible manner is essential if sustainable long-term value is to be secured from it.
The report’s nine recommendations include the need to set 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, according to ACCA.
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, the organisation, said ACCA , adding that suspect claims need to be challenged.
- 66% believe that their leaders prioritise ethics as highly as profits.
- 64% believe that the impact of AI on overall standard of living in society is positive, but only half that proportion (32%) consider its impact on levels of inequality to be positive. On the latter with 28% recording negative impact, the net positive balance was just 4%.
- Three in four report being effective / very effective at managing confidentiality, and two in three at managing data quality.
- Just more than half (51%) believe that the impact of AI on their ability to live according to their values is positive. 31% are aware of AI use within their industry. Fewer than half (48%) have a basic understanding of how an AI algorithm works.