Practice Management

Diversity Requires an Inclusive Culture for CPA Firms

Hands around multicolored pawns representing diversity and inclusion in CPA firms

Diversity and inclusion in CPA firms has become a priority in recent years. Why? Because a diverse workforce creates opportunities for unique perspectives that yield smarter business decisions. While the benefits of a diverse workforce are abundant, creating diversity in sync with an inclusive culture requires a thoughtful strategy and deliberate execution.

Diversity is not just about differences; it also refers to the similarities that connect individuals such as race, sexual orientation, age, religion, physical ability, core values and cultural norms that shape the way individuals process information. These characteristics, when embraced, can bring unique perspectives and ideas to any business, paving the way for innovation, adaptation and growth.

Diversity vs. Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion, while often coupled together, are not synonymous. Diversity without inclusion is merely checking off boxes for the sake of “diversifying.” Although many businesses are implementing diversity initiatives, the desired benefits can fall short of expectations if inclusion efforts are not simultaneously implemented.

What’s missing is the cultural foundation to respect a variety of perspectives and demonstrate empathy — characteristics that ignite unity and foster innovation among a group. Diversity without inclusion does not always yield fruitful results. In fact, it can lead to seclusion and the feeling of tokenism.

Unintentional ‘Tokenism’

Individuals often find themselves sought after based on gender, race, age or even education level to speak on behalf of others like them. Whether someone is inclined to share this perspective, the idea of one or two determining factors entitling a person to represent an entire group can feel alienating, especially in a homogenous setting.

This isn’t to say management can’t seek the advice and perspective of others; however, how they ask for and receive information is critical. Furthermore, some thought leaders suggest asking if a person feels comfortable offering their opinion based on their experiences and perspectives prior to being publicly solicited.

Creating Inclusivity

Unlike diversity, which can be easy to document, inclusion is more of a mindset than a trackable statistic. For all employees (both minorities and majorities) to feel equally valued, everyone needs to feel like they are a part of the team, not just wearing the jersey on the sidelines.

Successfully seeking the input of ideas and thoughts takes a certain level of personal awareness. That is, how we ask and respond to ideas different than our own will determine how likely people will continue to speak up.

Lead By Example

In a world becoming more complex and disconnected, courageous leadership is essential to create an inclusive business culture that is ready for the future.

Learn more about diversity and inclusion in CPA firms.

Start by making sure you are inclusive in your CPA firm’s external marketing efforts, and then focus on being authentic when building relationships with any underserved communities your accoutning firms serves or is targeting.

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About Becca Sensiba

Becca Sensiba is the Owner, Content Creator, and Freelance Writer at Ink Craft. Ink Craft creates custom content that builds trust, strengthens brands and drives revenue. Every word your audience reads is an opportunity for a conversation, and great content has the ability to spark a dialogue with your target market and build a relationship with your audience.

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