Ethnic diversity in the CPA profession has not kept up with ethnic diversity in the general U.S. population. Profession-wide commitment is necessary to move the needle and create a representative and inclusive profession, so we needed to create innovative solutions to encourage students from underrepresented backgrounds to consider accounting.
Both the above-mentioned INCPAS Scholars and Game On: CPAs in Action have received statewide and national recognition through awards and media coverage, including the prestigious Association of Society Association Executives (ASAE) Power of A Award in 2013 and in 2017 for the INCPAS Scholars’ in “The Power to Create a Competitive Workforce” category.
We knew these programs were succeeding in their goal to increase awareness about and diversity in the profession. However, we also knew we needed to do a better job conveying their impact to our current supporters and their value to members, as they would not be possible without the investment and involvement of key stakeholders. And since all members are key stakeholders, we needed to increase awareness to get support at all levels — from contributors to sponsors to volunteers to hiring managers.
So, in 2017 we created a monthly Diversity in the Designation e-newsletter as a free way to share the successes and opportunities for members to help build diversity in the CPA profession starting early in the talent pipeline. These e-newsletters highlight the successes of our two diversity programs for minority high school students – Game On: CPAs in Action and the INCPAS Scholars.
We make two versions, one customized to current supporters and the other to full membership to help them understand the value of diversity and let them know how they can get involved. We are always sure to spotlight individual students and volunteers to show how member involvement is making a difference in each of their lives and paths to pursuing the CPA designation.
Out of the 6,300+ members who receive the monthly newsletter, our open rate is roughly 25%.
We have also seen an increase in member engagement, as more members contact us after each newsletter about getting involved with events, hosting students for office tours and becoming mentors.
Further, our content comes at no cost — photos are taken on personal cell phone cameras and promoted in the e-newsletters, magazine and social media.
We also encourage supporters to share these photos and stories with their staff, colleagues and clients so more people are aware of their efforts and support.
While our organization has worked really hard and been innovative in promoting diversity within the accounting profession in Indiana, I was somewhat hesitant initially to sign the CEO Pledge because of our internal lack of diversity. As a small organization with low turnover, frankly, we just aren’t diverse. But in considering the aim of the CEO Action Pledge, I realized this is a chance to showcase what we’ve done for the CPA profession and jumpstart our internal efforts. So we are making sure the hiring process gets updated and looking in new places for talent when we do have an opportunity to hire. There’s a lot more work to do, but the CEO Action Pledge has been inspiring for us.