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Ways Accounting Organizations Start With Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts

Written on Jan 25, 2023
Ways Accounting Organizations Start With Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts

              (Yan Krukov / pexels)

The book-turned-movie Hidden Figures highlights the work and plight of Black women mathematicians at NASA during the Space Race between the U.S. and Russia. Their behind-the-scenes work literally rocketed U.S. astronaut John Glenn into the history books but went unnoticed and underappreciated.

The story of these brave, intelligent women working in a white male-dominated world and what they had to endure is nothing less than inspirational, and it’s just one story across the globe and throughout millennia that highlights how people of color have made and continue to make a huge impact despite the odds. Unfortunately, for every one of those stories, countless more have been forgotten or ignored due to prejudices over skin color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or ethnicity.

Fortunately, times are changing. Now, organizations are increasingly focused on developing diversity, equity and inclusion strategies for a multitude of reasons. Not only is DEI work the right thing to do, but it also benefits the organization.

Indisputable evidence for adopting diversity and inclusion measures

Innovative technologies are unifying global economies now more than ever. And, in 2014, for the first time in U.S. history, minorities became the majority, as 50.2% of children under age five belonged to minority ethnic groups. Those children will start entering the job market soon, making the workplace even more diverse.

Despite burgeoning diversity, the workplace hasn’t kept pace. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, most corporate executives are white males. Moreover, minority workers are less likely to be promoted within their organizations and more likely to be unemployed.

While there’s room for improvement, there’s also an overabundance of reasons to dedicate ourselves to improving sooner rather than later. For example, diverse organizations are more likely to outperform their competitors and have better retention rates. On average, accounting firms like the Big Four have increased their revenue by 10 points and their gross margins by six points after diversifying their workforce. Statistics show that for every ten percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity at the senior-exec level, there is a 0.08 percent rise in earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT).

Additionally, diverse organizations can offer their customers a broader range of services, and they are more resilient as they garner the creative ideas of their employees. Their employees are more productive and perform better, and their diversity and inclusion efforts grow exponentially as varied applicants learn about the organization and apply for positions.

The data shows that our culture must be more proactive in creating an ethnically inclusive and diverse workforce. Without these, minorities remain invisible, and we rob ourselves of precious resources, talent and creative solutions.

Top-down and bottom-up concept

Developing and implementing diversity, equity and inclusion measures requires time, consistency and a two-way approach. Simply hiring a diverse workforce doesn’t make it inclusive. Without commitment and support by managers, there could be adverse outcomes like increased workplace bias and conflict.

Define diversity and set goals

Starting at the top, executives must clearly define and regularly communicate diversity goals to employees. Employer policies do matter to workers.

Professional help and pre-assessment

To know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve been. Tracking your effectiveness requires knowing how your organization measures up at the starting line. A professional DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) auditor or coach can help you with all facets, from assessments to data collection.

Empower managers

A great way to have diversity, equity and inclusion efforts eagerly adopted into your organization is to get managers or a special committee involved with planning and strategizing. Ensure their exposure to various groups of people to aid in their perspectives, decision making and hiring processes.

Train and encourage

Once organizational executives and managers are on board, it’s time to champion the cause. Raise employee awareness of the importance at meetings and through communication channels. Train everyone to identify and diminish bias within themselves.

Hire diverse talent

Expand your recruitment practices to cover different populations and ethnicities. For example, consider boosting your presence at college job fairs where there's a more diverse pool to choose from.


Starting at the bottom and working up, efforts to educate diverse populations about accounting careers will pay off long term . The applicant pool for financial jobs dwindles as the next generation opts for STEM careers. “But wait,” you say, “accounting is math. And the accounting profession is full of technology, science and engineering jobs!”

You’re right! But college kids don’t know it yet. So, get in front of them and tell them.

The education component of the plan should also include your current employees. Make efforts to train and cultivate your workers for higher positions, especially minorities and women.

Assess and report

Measure the success of your diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Be transparent about your findings with your employees because it keeps the conversation going, shows your current and potential employees its importance and holds everyone accountable.


It’s not enough to diversify your applicant pool or hire various ethnicities. We have to support our employees so that they have a voice in our company. To quote lawyer, activist and inclusion strategist Vernā Myers, “Diversity is being asked to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Done right, diversity, equity and inclusion strategies can improve a company's overall business performance. The Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA) has developed a cultural assessment that helps organizations get a pulse check and take the next step in their DEI journey. Check out our on-demand CPE webinars and programs like our DEI Crossing Bridges Series to learn more.

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