For D+I success 'make the journey personal'

Written on Jan 23, 2020

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

 

There is much work to be done when it comes to increasing diversity and inclusion in the profession, but one D+I expert said it’s possible with collaboration and commitment.

“If we can just continue to build off of each other, we could move a little faster and we might turn it around a little sooner,” said Florence Holland, lead manager of pipeline initiatives at the AICPA.

That increased collaboration will be found in Columbus at the Crossing Bridges Summit 2020 Advancing Diversity and Inclusion on Aug. 13, at which Holland will speak on inclusion in the profession and the value of metrics in D+I processes.

Diversity and inclusion is evolving to include a feeling of belonging, and she noted the Verna Myers quote “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

“Now that you invited me to the dance, will you allow me to play my playlist?” she said. “Will you allow my music to be played? So now we’re taking that a step further from the questions of can you see yourself in the firm and can you see yourself in the profession?”

Holland said one of the biggest hurdles in D+I is understanding why certain ethnic groups in the profession are not increasing, a perspective that can get lost when diverse groups are lumped together when looking at reports and research. Another is making diversity initiatives applicable to individual firms and not taking a “one size fits all” approach, since what’s right for one firm might not be right for another.

“We still have work to be done for each firm to really look at their data and say, while one may be focused on ethnic diversity, it may be gender diversity for another,” she said. “It may be diversity of schools, it could be a multitude of things.”

Digging deeper into the research and data available is what will make D+I successful for the profession, Holland said strides will be made when companies look at specific ways to improve their D+I and avoid a generic approach.

“Making it personal and really focusing on how you can best impact your firm directly is much better than taking a generic, one-size-fits-all approach,” she said.

And while what worked for one firm might not work for another, sharing ideas and resources and continuing to work together will propel the profession forward in D+I.

“The ability for us as thought leaders and individuals to come together is extremely valuable because it’s good for us to see what we need to do,” she said. “It is vital that we look to individuals that have done the work and that are willing to share the word again, so that we can constantly build on it and be smarter about it.”

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