AAT's responsible business strategy

Responsible business is one of AAT's core themes, and we aim to embed it in all we do and represent. This covers everything from professional ethics, to sustainability, through to diversity and inclusion. These principles run throughout our activity: in the qualifications we develop, in what we champion on our members' behalf, and in how we run our business.
Sarah Beale, AAT Chief Executive
Mission statement

Mission statement

At AAT it’s our mission to make it possible for more people to experience the opportunities a career in finance brings, through our accessible qualifications and supportive community. 

We drive up standards and champion the role that our profession plays in tackling the global challenges of the future. 

Our 2030 Strategy is built around three overarching themes. 

1. Keeping our profession relevant 

We have a vital role to play in advocating for our profession. Through supporting individuals joining and those already engaged to stay relevant, we'll ensure many can benefit from these changes. 

Accountants play a vital role in these times of change, supporting businesses and economies at a local, national and global level. But there is a growing expectation that they must adapt. Become more digital, data and insight-led. More focused on sustainable growth and aware of ethical considerations, helping businesses to balance profit with purpose. 

2. Driving up professional standards 

Central to AAT’s role, as both an awarding and a professional body, is a commitment to raising standards and upholding professional ethics within the accountancy profession. The ultimate impact we are seeking is greater trust and confidence in the profession from the public. 

3. Building responsible business 

AAT has a clear remit to act in the public interest. As a professional membership organisation we can enact and inspire societal change, both through our own business activity and by demonstrating leadership to our community.

Within the strategy, the Responsible Business framework is based on four key areas of focus: 

Our purpose

To open up access to finance careers for everyone. To inspire and develop an inclusive community of accounting professionals equipped with the real world skills needed to help businesses meet the challenges of our fast-changing world.  

Our people

To promote diversity and inclusion, and champion fair working practices, supporting talent from the widest talent pool. We are champions of social mobility through the promotion of access to education, skills and training in the wide range of available accounting careers. 

Our planet

To ensure sustainability with a focus on how our activities and behaviours impact on communities where we operate, focusing on energy, waste and water. In particular, we will develop plans to take us to Net Zero as soon as practicable. 

To help provide our stakeholders with the skills they need to actively harness the influence of finance and business to halt climate change, working collaboratively with partners globally to develop provide access to high quality resources. 

Our practices

To ensure policies and procedures are transparent and fair, and promote a sustainable economy, actively looking at anti-corruption, responsible supply chains and procurement. 

Initiatives and memberships

AAT is involved in a number of initiatives that demonstrate our commitment to being a responsible business.

AAT consultation responses

We represent our members' interests by responding to consultations by government departments and other bodies. Read our responses on corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Two women at a table, with an open laptop, having a discussionConsultation response

Enhancing climate-related disclosures by asset managers, life insurers and pension providers

We support efforts to increase the visibility of climate related risks in financial markets, and the use of TCFD recommendations as a basis of reporting.

Ten people in a meeting room, sitting opposite each otherConsultation response

Plastic waste

AAT strongly supports efforts to reduce single use by encouraging alternatives, penalising through taxation, charges or both and incentivising behaviour change.

A woman at a desk, typing at a laptop, with some documents, a pen, and a pair of glasses on the deskConsultation response

Aviation tax reform

We don't agree with proposals to reduce Air Passenger Duty on UK domestic flights because it contradicts and weakens policy on reaching net zero by 2050.

A woman at a desk, typing at a laptop, with some documents, a pen, and a pair of glasses on the deskConsultation response

Next steps for deposit return schemes

Our comments are on impacts on retailers and local authorities, the scale of deposit charges, and the learning opportunity provided by the Scottish scheme.

A woman looking at the screen of her phoneConsultation response

Environmental tax measures

AAT supports a single threshold to assess plastic packaging tax liability but applying it to packaging with under 30% recycled content is not ambitious enough.

A woman looking at the screen of her phoneConsultation response

Corporate transparency and register reform: powers of the registrar

As an anti-money laundering supervisor AAT is supportive of measures to limit opportunities to use fraudulent register information to hide money laundering.

Two women at a table, with an open laptop, having a discussionConsultation response

Sustainability reporting

AAT believes there's a need for internationally recognised reporting standards, but we're concerned that no timescales are set out in the consultation document.

A woman's hands going through the pages of a magazineConsultation response

Enhancing climate-related disclosures by listed issuers

We recognise the value of the TCFD recommendations, particularly amongst organisations of interest to investors, and we broadly support the FCA proposals.

A woman's hands going through the pages of a magazineConsultation response

Plastic packaging tax policy design

AAT backs government proposals for a plastic packaging tax. This tax could play a very significant role in reducing plastic waste and more.

Our Annual Report

Our Annual Report

More details of AAT activities and impacts can be found in our Annual Report.

Associated policies 

Diversity and inclusion 

At AAT we believe that in order to reach our full business potential it is essential to develop a truly inclusive working culture. Not only is this the right thing to do, but encouraging diversity in everything we do allows us to offer the best customer products, services and experience. 

We are committed to delivering equality of opportunity and to ensuring that everyone who works for us, job applicants, members, students, and any other people with whom we deal are able to reach their full potential, are treated fairly, and are not subjected to unfair or unlawful discrimination. 

For all who participate in our qualifications we aim to ensure that: 

  • our qualifications are free from barriers that restrict access and progression, and they are attainable by all who can demonstrate the required standard by whatever means 
  • our qualifications and publications are free from discriminatory practices or stereotypes with regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation 
  • assessment tasks and study opportunities are sufficiently varied and flexible to ensure that no group of students or would-be students are placed at any disadvantage 
  • all reasonable adjustments are made to cater for students' individual requirements 
  • assessments are valid and reliable to ensure that all students receive impartial treatment. 

AAT has taken a proactive approach to addressing gender and ethnicity pay gap issues, and reports annually.  

Modern slavery  

As part of our commitment to responsible business practices we take steps to prevent modern slavery or human trafficking in our supply chains, and in any part of our business. This reflects our commitment to acting ethically and with integrity in all our business relationships and to implementing and enforcing effective systems and controls which address the risks of modern slavery and human trafficking.  

As part of our efforts to identify and mitigate the risks of modern slavery and human trafficking, we will: 

  • look to build long-term relationships with our suppliers and clearly highlight to them our expectations of business behaviour. Our standard AAT contracts ensure that new suppliers (including their sub-contractors and consultants), or renewals of existing supplier contracts, are obliged to comply with all anti-slavery laws, rules and regulations, and codes of practice 
  • contract with a UK company or branch whenever possible and ensure that these entities confirm that they have suitable anti-slavery and human trafficking policies and procedures in place 
  • encourage the reporting of concerns and provide appropriate protection for whistleblowers. 

We will not support or deal with any business knowingly involved in slavery or human trafficking. Senior management will take responsibility for implementing this policy statement and its objectives. 

Read our safeguarding policy

Read our safeguarding policy

We're committed to ensuring that all those studying AAT qualifications have access to a safe learning and assessment environment and that all those who come into contact with us through their work are protected from all forms of abuse.

To understand how we work to achieve this, you can read our Safeguarding policy, procedures and guidance document (PDF).