Here at INCPAS, we like to be leaders rather than followers. One area we think we’ve been leading is in diversity. Many of you know that diversity levels in the CPA profession have not changed much in 25 years. While we may not have made much of a dent yet, we are scratching the surface. And that’s progress.
We have three diversity programs that are the envy of others. The INCPAS Scholars program may be the most unique and innovative. It’s a 12-month program, matching high school students with CPA mentors and keeping them engaged through monthly activities. Last year 15 students successfully completed the program and we have 20 this year.
Game On: CPAs in Action and the Diversity Summit are one-day events but with impacts far greater than that. More than 100 high school students attend Game On (now in its fifth year) and learn a lot about the profession. More than 100 members and educators attend the Diversity Summit (in its third year) and get real tips and techniques they can put into action. But we haven’t stopped here … we plan to expand Game On into northern Indiana this year, and perhaps expand the Diversity Summit into a regional event in the future.
And we have lots of sponsors too, which shows they both support our efforts and understand why diversity is so important to our future. Nine firms and six universities last year, and 10 firms and nine universities this year!
At the recent Diversity Summit, one of the speakers talked about an approach to diversity: “Find the pain. Start with the end in mind. Identify the missing piece. Help drive business success.” That pretty well sums it up for me. The success of our firms and members’ businesses may depend on increasing diversity and how well the profession can match the overall population demographics and trends with minority-owned business.
And though our focus has primarily been on ethnic diversity, it is really the diversity of thought within firms and businesses that is the desired result of more ethnic diversity. That is the missing piece and the “end” we want to get to. Not having that diversity of thought is the pain point, and many are at that stage right now.
Another speaker talked about the need to be agile and adaptive. We can help ensure that by moving the needle on diversity of thought. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about being agile and adaptive. Our knowledge management advisors David Griffiths and Peter Evans stress it, and McKenzie Scott Lewis talked about it at our spring leadership cabinet/emerging leaders alliance meeting in terms of recognizing and adjusting to what is happening around us today.
We have a long way to go with diversity, but the momentum is there and we can build on it by being agile, adaptive and dynamic as well.
To watch all of our videos on diversity, visit our INCPAS YouTube Channel.
What are your thoughts on diversity in the CPA profession?