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Intentionality is critical when retaining diverse teams

Written on Sep 16, 2021

By Gary Hunt, CAE, director, content strategy & media 

Leaders who want to grow and retain a diverse team need to work on fostering a supportive and inclusive environment, one DEI expert says.  

“It's important for professionals to feel that they are going into an environment where they can be their authentic self,” said Margaret Finley, CPEC, CDP, OSCPA's diversity, equity and inclusion strategist. “And they really need to see people that look like them.” 

Retaining diverse leaders is necessary to ensure sustainability of the accounting profession, according to a recent study conducted by The Institute of Management Accountants with help from The Ohio Society of CPAs and nine other state CPA societies. Loreal Jiles, lead researcher on the study and IMA Director of Research, recently had a discussion on the State of Business podcast with Finley and Ohio Society President & CEO Scott Wiley, CAE, on the findings. 

The study, “Diversifying U.S. Accounting Talent: A Critical Imperative to Achieve Transformational Outcomes,” found that up to 18% of underrepresented groups are leaving the accounting profession because of the lack of equity and inclusion.  

Wiley spoke on the value of having an accounting profession that reflects the population it serves, especially as the U.S. continues to grow in diversity. 

“As the economy shifts, and the population shifts, that capital is going to continue to be held by diverse individuals and diverse diversity led organizations,” Wiley said. “So, we've got to be mindful and respectful of that.” 

While organizations are planning out ways to retain diverse staff and leaders, Wiley noted that they should recognize a culture can make or break efforts to attract diverse professionals to the organization. 

“Culture starts with the leadership team,” he said. “We've got to be intentional. And it's important that we create intentionally consistent cultures, and we have to be clear about that with our teams paying attention to and guarding against subtle signs of having a non-inclusive culture that affects our diverse teams more frequently.” 

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