African American Staff Resource Group Pilot Programs
Despite our great strides in recruiting African-American staff, we were struggling to retain them. Thanks to feedback from our African American Staff Resource Group (AA SRG), we learned:
- Many young staff felt their onboarding process could have been better structured for success
- There was a need to better communicate the drivers of the lower retention to:
- (1) inform leaders of the disparity in retaining African-American staff versus other staff, and
- (2) manage unconscious biases and/or unintentional consequences that impact staff experience.
We took a dual approach to address these challenges. With our incoming African American interns and full-time hires, we created the Emerging Professionals Summit. The focus of this career “readiness” summit is to assist diverse talent in making a smooth, successful transition from college into the firm through open discussions and workshops over a two-day period. The second, the AA SRG Champions Orientation, was designed for the partners and buddies of existing or incoming diverse staff. This pilot-program provides quarterly training and resources to aid in the coaching, mentoring, and developing of our diverse staff. We recognize there is no one-size-fits-all model for managing our careers and staff engagement, so programs like these provide the necessary tools and guidance to meet our personal goals and professional performance expectations.f
2019 marks our third and final pilot year and we have tracked the following results from the Emerging Professionals Summit and Champions Orientation programs:
- The AA SRG Champions Orientation has coached over 100 firm leaders on unconscious bias and diverse staff experience
- The number of attendees for the Emerging Professional Summit has more than doubled
- The vast majority of incoming African American Audit and Tax staff have passed at least one, if not all, sections of the CPA exam
- Our African-American staff retention rate has increased by approximately 3%
Creating a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace is difficult work — but it’s worth every bit of time, effort, and expense that we put into it. Why? Because it creates stronger, more innovative firms that are better equipped to provide solutions to clients, attract top talent, and effectively incorporate multiple perspectives into how we make decisions. The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ pledge is an opportunity to leverage best practices within the industry and expand our focus on inclusion and diversity beyond our firm and our profession. I’m looking forward to the conversations and opportunities it may foster.