The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: How to deliver successful diversity and inclusion results and benchmark your progress

As leaders in the accounting profession come to understand the business case for diversity and inclusion, they often have a similar quandary.

“The next natural question is, ‘So what do I do about it?’ ” said Kenneth Bouyer, CPA, chairman of the AICPA National Commission on Diversity & Inclusion and EY Americas director of Inclusiveness Recruiting.

New tools released Monday at the AICPA fall Council meeting are designed to answer the question of how to expand diversity and inclusion at a business or firm—and across the accounting profession as a whole. Both tools are available at

The Accounting Inclusion Maturity Model gives firm and business leaders an opportunity to perform a comprehensive self-assessment of their progress in fostering diversity and inclusion. Firms and businesses can use the model to assess their practices in the workforce, workplace, and marketplace, and in community and supplier relations.

A second offering, the Recruiting and Retention Toolkit, highlights best practices for attracting, recruiting, and retaining a diverse workforce.

The National Commission developed the tools using the input of accounting leaders and others. The tools are part of Institute-led efforts to help the accounting profession better reflect the diversity of the clients and public that CPAs serve. In 2012, 11% of the people employed in the United States were black or African-American, and 15% were Hispanic or Latino, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics research.

In that same year, blacks or African-Americans accounted for 4% of the accounting employees and 2% of the partners at CPA firms, according to the most recent AICPA Trends supply and demand survey. Hispanics or Latinos made up 5% of the accounting employees and 2% of the partners at CPA firms.

While the maturity model will help leaders understand where their businesses and firms stand with relation to diversity and inclusion, the toolkit describes specific methods for improving their diversity and inclusion.

“This is going to answer the ‘Now what?’ question,” Bouyer said. “This toolkit will be a playbook to help you devise a strategy and a focus.”

The toolkit describes the business case for focusing on diversity and inclusion in the accounting profession, and provides steps businesses can take to improve their diversity and inclusion. It includes best practices for:

  • Attracting diverse candidates. This section discusses how organizations prepare themselves to be attractive to under-represented minority candidates by doing such things as obtaining leadership buy-in, setting clear short-term and long-term goals, and assessing employee engagement around current opportunities for creating a more inclusive work environment. “What does your brand look like?” Bouyer said. “How are you positioned to be successful? How well do your folks in your organization understand the need and why you’re focusing on this space?”
  • Recruiting a diverse workforce by perfecting job postings to better define how candidates will fit into the larger picture, developing recruitment plans, training recruiters and human resources professionals to recognize the obstacle of unconscious bias, and delivering consistent interview experiences for all candidates. Bouyer uses a fishing analogy, saying that leaders and recruiters may need to fish in a different pond to catch different kinds of fish. “You have to do different things to attract diverse talent,” he said.
  • Retaining under-represented minorities at an organization. Tips include conducting “stay interviews.” Turning exit interviews on their heads, these give employees an opportunity to share what’s working for them—and what can be done to improve the overall workplace culture.“You’re not the only organization that’s interested in the power of diversity and inclusion and diverse talent,” Bouyer said. “So your folks will be highly sought after in the marketplace. You have to think about different retention strategies to retain and ultimately advance this really talented group of people that you’re spending a fair amount of effort to get into your organization.”

As more organizations use the maturity model, an anonymized database will be built to allow them to benchmark where they stand on diversity and inclusion compared with similar organizations.

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