Become A CPA

Become A CPA

Diversity & Inclusion: Resources for Your Organization

by Ed Ramos, CPA | Jun 17, 2015
Diverse business people
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Two years ago I was nominated to serve a three year term on the AICPA’s National Commission for Diversity and Inclusion (NCDI). The NCDI was formed to serve as a champion and advisor within the accounting profession proposing strategies to recruit, retain, and advance underrepresented minorities in the profession. As I look back at my time serving on the NCDI, I am amazed by the progress made in such a short period of time. However, looking forward, there is still a lot of work to be done.

I was born and raised in Tacoma. My family moved from Puerto Rico to Washington. Growing up, I always felt comforted by the immediate surroundings of my family. During my journey as a minority student in accounting, I found myself lost without direction in the profession. I did not have anyone to push my potential to the next level, nor did I realize the value of networking and how it could help steer my career. When I became a CPA, I thought I would sit at a desk and not have to talk to a lot of people. I was surprised by the amount of communication and interaction that I was to encounter on the job. It was not until I found the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) that my eyes opened to the full potential of my career.

ALPFA helped me find something in the profession that I was familiar with – comfort and family. This journey has led me to where I am today. I became a shareholder in 2009 at the age of 33 at DP&C (formerly Dwyer Pemberton & Coulson) and I was happy with my personal success. But that was not enough. I knew it was unique for a minority to become a shareholder in a CPA firm. When I received the call to join the AICPA’s NCDI, I did not hesitate.

As the population and the buying power around us continues to grow more diverse, our profession must remain relevant and continue tapping into diverse markets. Many accounting firms/organizations struggle with understanding exactly what they should do to improve the recruiting and retention of diverse talent in their organizations. We all ask the same questions: Where are the minority students? Are we hiring diverse candidates just to increase the numbers? How can I get more minorities to interview at my firm? Why do minorities tend to leave my organization after a certain amount of years?

While this article is not intended to answer all of these questions, the AICPA’s Diversity & Inclusion team, in collaboration with the NCDI, has developed valuable resources, including Inclusion Solutions, the Accounting Inclusion Maturity Model and the Recruitment and Retention Toolkit, which were launched at the AICPA’s Fall Meeting of Council in 2014. The AICPA has also developed a pipeline initiative to help increase the number of minorities entering the profession.

Pipeline Initiatives

The Pipeline Project Vision is to develop a profession-wide and profession- funded effort that increases the number of underrepresented minorities entering the accounting profession. Major initiatives include:

  • Increase communication and awareness in diverse communities 
  • Increase support of school-based programs for students pursing accounting 
  • Increase the number of minorities who sit and pass the CPA exam

Inclusion Solutions

Inclusion Solutions is a monthly e-newsletter that delivers timely stories about diversity and inclusion best practices, trends, recruiting, retention, policy and regulatory information and AICPA-related diversity and inclusion news. Visit aicpa.org/inclusion for more information.

Accounting Inclusion Maturity Model

The Accounting Inclusion Maturity Model helps you assess your organization’s current diversity and inclusion environment and will eventually allow you to compare yourself to other firms of similar size.

  • Firms complete the assessment, composed of approximately 100 questions which evaluate four key areas of business, including Workforce, Workplace, Marketplace and Community and Supplier Relations.
  • The assessment is designed to be completed by multiple teams across the organization including human resources, marketing, and finance.

After completing the assessment, firms will have access to summary results indicating their diversity maturity. The four stages of maturity include Foundational, Englightened, Integrated and Optimized. Soon organizations will have the ability to compare themselves to others of similar size. To sign up to take the Accounting Inclusion Maturity Model visit aicpa.org/maturitymodel.

Recruitment and Retention Toolkit

The Recruitment and Retention Toolkit offers practical guidance on attracting, recruiting and retaining diverse talent and provides a useful framework for developing an action plan.

  • The toolkit is a resource to help leaders understand how attracting, recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce can help them better achieve their companies’ overall talent recruitment and retention goals. 
  • The toolkit provides an outline of the process necessary to make diversity and inclusion initiatives an ongoing part of a company’s culture. 
  • An action plan provides examples to assist in implementing changes. 
  • To learn more about the Recruitment and Retention Toolkit visit aicpa.org/diversity

In my experience, growing up in a close family environment where not much was shared outside of the family, I believe my communication with others was my largest challenge. Does having this challenge because of a different cultural perspective mean that I cannot become a shareholder or a strong leader? I may have a different experience than the coworker next to me, but if you provide me with the tools and the opportunity to succeed, I will succeed. These resources will help you understand how each employee in your organization is valuable in a different way, through their own life experiences, challenges, ethnicity, and/or religion.

Only a few years ago, I used to say that I elevated my career because I found mentors that looked like me, talked like me, and shared similar experiences. I have progressed to learn that I became successful because I became comfortable in my profession, which happened through my association with ALPFA. However, that could have come from anyone willing to be my mentor and willing to understand my culture and our differences.

Diversity is not about hiring or retaining employees for the sake of keeping the status quo. Diversity is about embracing and understanding everyone’s differences where ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives are brought together to create business value. It is discussed often in the accounting profession and is an important aspect of the work at the AICPA. Organizations committed to diversity and inclusion and utilizing the resources described above are taking the first steps to maintaining this success in the future.

Learn more:
Accounting Inclusion Maturity Model: aicpa.org/maturitymodel
Recruitment and Retention Toolkit: aicpa.org/diversity
Inclusion Solutions e-Newsletter: aicpa.org/inclusion
National Commission for Diversity and Inclusion (NCDI): AICPA Website

Ed Ramos, CPA, is Shareholder of DP&C in Tacoma. A member of the WSCPA since 2001, he serves on the AICPA’s National Commission for Diversity and Inclusion. You can contact him at eramos@dpcpa.com.
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