Letter from the CEO: It takes a village to move Diversity + Inclusion from vision to reality

Written on May 16, 2017

I recently experienced an awesome meeting of the minds in the profession. This past winter, OSCPA kicked off a Diversity + Inclusion Task Force. We invited partners, human resource and diversity professionals from the top firms and companies in Ohio to collaborate on building a comprehensive D+I strategy for OSCPA and the Ohio profession.

It’s one of the more engaged working groups I’ve had the pleasure to interact with as an association leader.

The day was facilitated by a Diversity + Inclusion consultant in the association space who has experience in Big 4 public accounting. Throughout the day, we explored topics such as what diversity really means—it’s not just about race or gender, but about welcoming diversity of perspective to make Ohio businesses employers of choice.

We talked about current diversity initiatives that exist in many Ohio organizations to transform their cultures so that this broader perspective happens organically as they attract and keep a larger pool of talent from racially underrepresented groups.

There was consensus that OSCPA should be a model and resource for organizations that employ CPAs. As such we are reviewing all of our internal practices from recruiting and training staff to our HR and governance policies to how we recruit volunteers and provide programming for members.

Finally, we talked about the need to highlight more diversity champions at all levels in the profession…both those who are or could be OSCPA volunteers as well as emerging leaders in organizations across Ohio.

Before we closed, the group started to create a vision for what a successful strategy should accomplish over the next three years, sharing comments such as: “the programs that OSCPA offers are moving the needle on the perception of the profession and resulting in greater involvement in OSCPA activities, especially programs dedicated to true diversity needs.”

Others said, “The strategy will be targeted and focused on building the business community in Ohio,” and “OSCPA and the CPA profession in Ohio are more relevant, and provide focus and resources for changing mindsets and cultures.”

That’s a pretty tall order for a three-year plan, but we developed a framework with three areas of focus, each with several key objectives:

Leadership—OSCPA will become a D&I model and change the narrative around the CPA profession to fit demographic realities. Our D&I commitment will lead to a better business environment in Ohio.

Workforce Development—The current credential pipeline and employers of CPAs and accounting professionals will attribute their enhanced professional performance to OSCPA. In addition, OSCPA’s D&I commitment will lead to a more diverse workforce and leadership pool in Ohio.

Business Development—OSCPA is the first choice for D&I resources and cultivates “employers of choice” in Ohio. OSCPA’s D&I commitment raises the visibility of CPAs and their employers as D&I champions.

It’s important to note that these strategies are intentionally aligned with other strategic priorities identified last year by OSCPA’s leaders, namely, building a larger and more diverse pipeline of CPA talent. We are already expanding our student initiatives programs. But this plan will be much broader, bridging the recruiting and hiring piece with tools to help employers keep their best talent and change their own workplace cultures. It’s an exciting program and one we feel is long overdue.

The task force reconvenes in June to start building specific strategies to accomplish these broad goals along with metrics to measure progress. Stay tuned for more.

Scott Wiley, CAE
President & CEO
The Ohio Society of CPAs
(614) 764-2727, ext. 2218 (office)
(614) 546-9430 (cell)
Twitter: @ScottDWiley
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/scottwileycae

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