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Diversity and inclusion must move beyond discussion.

by | Nov 14, 2017 | Industry News & Trends

Recently, The Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA) has been evolving our diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts to create an intentional culture shift in the association.

Why are we making D&I a priority?

Research shows companies that elevate D&I beyond just a focus on creating greater demographic diversity financially outperform their peers and an inclusive business environment boosts innovation and employee engagement. Yet, the accounting profession has reported only small increases in the number of diverse graduates entering the profession during the past seven years. We still have work to do, but I am excited about how we are leading in this space.

OSCPA invited partners as well as human resource and diversity professionals from the top professional service firms and companies throughout Ohio to collaborate on a comprehensive D&I strategy for the statewide CPA profession. It was a spirited and highly-engaged group, and we explored topics such as what OSCPA can do to make Ohio businesses employers of choice.

Research shows companies that elevate D&I beyond just a focus on creating greater demographic diversity financially outperform their peers

We also talked about the state of Damp;I in Ohio’s CPA profession, and developed a multi-year framework that extends OSCPA’s D&I initiatives and supports employers in developing and sharing their own solutions. The group then visualized a three-year strategy, which includes these priority-focused areas: 

  • Leadership—OSCPA will become a D&I model by collaborating to influence behavior and activity. Our D&I commitment will lead to a better business environment in Ohio.
  • Workforce Development—The current credential pipeline and employers of CPAs and accounting professionals will attribute their enhanced professional outcomes to OSCPA. In addition, OSCPA’s D&I commitment will lead to a more inclusive workforce and leadership pool in Ohio.
  • Business Connections—OSCPA is a go-to community for exploring and sharing D&I resources and cultivating employer champions.

These strategies are intentionally aligned with other strategic priorities identified last year by OSCPA’s leaders, namely, building a larger and more inclusive CPA workforce in Ohio. We are expanding our student diversity initiatives, and this plan will take our overall D&I commitment to a higher level. It is long overdue.

My challenge for association executives considering the value of diversity and inclusion in their own organization is to think about the direction the rest of the world is headed. If you do not have diverse perspectives on your team, your organization will not be relevant in our changing world.

If you do not have diverse perspectives on your team, your organization will not be relevant in our changing world

For these efforts to be authentic, though, leaders also must recognize the sensitivity that can come along with D&I. One of the easiest ways to demonstrate genuine commitment is to make your vision and plan actionable. And set metrics for how you will measure your progress and, ultimately, your success.

The most important lesson we’ve learned through this process is that the journey of a thousand miles does start with one step. Our plan will evolve over time, as it should, to remain relevant.

But, you must take the first step. Gather people who don’t all look, act or think like you do. It matters for your association and those you serve.

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