It’s Time to MOVE the Needle on DEI
The Accounting MOVE Project is the only annual benchmarking research and advocacy report that equips accounting and advisory firms to detect, develop, and drive competitive advantages from diversity initiatives and trends.
While numerous studies have shown the benefits of implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in the workplace and translated the value of staying committed to DEI in terms of recruitment and retention, it would appear the accounting industry still has a long way to go.
The AICPA 2021 Trends report, according to Bloomberg, presented that only 2% of CPAs at U.S. accounting firms are Black, only 5% of the firms’ CPAs are Hispanic and Latino and 14% are Asian or Pacific Islander.
Similarly, a 2019 study from the University of North Dakota found that while approximately 60% of the tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll service professionals employed in the U.S. were female (arguably a minority in the accounting profession years ago), nearly 80% of the employee base was white.
“Post-COVID expectations are coinciding with generational approaches to work-life balance, to reset how and how much professionals take on at each career stage…Instead of professionals asking firm leaders for permission for everything from daily practice, flexibility, and promotions, they now hold veto power, forcing firm leaders to be more deferential and collaborative.”
One organization hoping to turn the tide is the Accounting MOVE Project, along with its leader, Bonnie Ruszczyk, who is also the owner of BBR Companies, LLC. In this episode of Know-How Korner with Donny Shimamoto, CPA, CITP, CGMA, the inspiration architect of the Center for Accounting Transformation and the founder and managing director of IntrapriseTechKnowlogies LLC, Ruszczyk shared how MOVE helps firms, specifically in the area of recruiting and retention.
“The Accounting MOVE Project basically makes the business case for advancing women and people of color by delivering firms the comprehensive data and guidance on finding, retaining, developing, and advancing diverse talent,” she explained. In addition to recognizing the best places for women to work and the best firms for equity leadership for women and people of color, Ruszczyk said MOVE goes beyond just a survey by doing one-on-one interviews and diving deeper into what actions firms are taking, where they are seeing success and where they may be running into roadblocks.
“So what we do with that information is each firm that participates gets a confidential, customized report,” Ruszczyk added, stating each report begins by celebrating successes, but then asks firms to be introspective and focus on a few things that could improve, based on the comprehensive annual reports released publicly that include best practices and show statistics on those best practices.
“We really try in every way possible to show the measurements that are being applied to those initiatives,” Ruszczyk said.
This year, Ruszczyk said MOVE will focus on how career sustainability is the new essential power skill and how the traditional pace of career advancement at accounting and advisory firms is proving unsustainable.
“Post-COVID expectations are coinciding with generational approaches to work-life balance, to reset how and how much professionals take on at each career stage,” she said. “Instead of professionals asking firm leaders for permission for everything from daily practice, flexibility, and promotions, they now hold veto power, forcing firm leaders to be more deferential and collaborative.”
More Takeaways from Ruszczyk:
- The Accounting MOVE Project was founded in 2010.
- In the Accounting MOVE Project, “MOVE” stands for “Money, Opportunity, Vital (supports), and Entrepreneurship.
- Archives of previous reports are available at https://accountingmoveproject.com/archives/.
- Firms that can design and deliver win-win scenarios will engage professionals at a much higher level… and keep them.
Firms can create opportunities for advancement and leadership in a way that also works for the people who work within those firms. “Whether we like it or not, women have the majority of caregiving responsibilities,” Ruszczyk explained. “So, in 2022, half of the firms that participated in the Accounting MOVE project reporting having some sort of scale partnership track. And as women continue to shoulder disproportionate caregiving burdens, the emerging question is, or as we see it is, how can women advance into equity partnership while on a scale track?
To participate in the Accounting MOVE Project check out their website: https://accountingmoveproject.com/
Watch the interview and learn more about the Accounting MOVE Project.