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Black professionals need to be “seen and heard” by the accounting profession

Written on Feb 16, 2023

By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager  

The future for Black professionals within the profession is something Kayla Campbell said she’s “thought about a lot.”  

“I think it's beautiful that there are business resource groups and programs and new spaces where different roles are being created like Chief Diversity Officer and DEI professionals,” Campbell said.   

Campbell worked at KPMG for about a year before joining Fifth Third in the fall of 2022 as a senior tax analyst. She also worked at The Ohio Society of CPAs as a student director of diversity and inclusion intern, helping with Ohio CPA Foundation programs such as the Accounting Career Leadership Academy and ACAP-Ohio, helping to recruit and develop the next generation of accounting professionals. 

She said she’s encouraged by the efforts she sees in recruitment and mentorship in the profession, and the impact made by looking through the DEI lens. Companies are being pushed to reimagine what their future workforce and leadership look like and how diverse professionals are a key part of that.  

It’s crucial for companies to make an effort to understand and support different viewpoints, Campbell said, as new, diverse staff might challenge old ways of thinking. This could mean being heard by leadership when raising concerns or ensuring all capable employees are getting opportunities for promotions or varied client work.  

“Take the time to unlearn some things and work on being a little bit more inclusive and understanding and supportive,” Campbell said. “That'll definitely help with retention.”  

To support Black professionals as they rise through the ranks of an organization, she said being aware of implicit and explicit bias will be crucial.  

“That work is necessary to have Black professionals feel more secure and less anxiety and stress than they might originally,” she said.  

Black professionals should be able to raise concerns without fear of hostility or retaliation from their company, Campbell said.  

“In my own experience, it's really good to be seen and heard, when it when it comes to something that might be said by a fellow professional or the overall atmosphere,” she said. “I'm grateful in my journey so far that I've had either HR professionals or fellow professionals that have had similar identities to me helped me navigate those scenarios.” 

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