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Continuing the Journey of Inclusion: The Year in Review

DiversityAs 2015 draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the 12-month journey that our society and the accounting profession have made in the area of diversity and inclusion. This has been a banner year for diversity and inclusion in the profession, especially in relation to gender issues. Additionally, there are a number of new opportunities for accountants to capitalize upon as a result of a key diversity and inclusion-related ruling raised by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In July of 2015, KPMG announced Lynne Doughtie as their U.S. Chairman and CEO. In addition, growth in leadership among women within the accounting profession continued. Tommie Barry recently concluded her year as AICPA Chairperson of the Board of Directors. At the same time, the AICPA’s governing Council voted Kimberly Ellison Taylor into the Vice-Chair position of the AICPA Board of Directors at its fall meeting.  Of even greater note, Kimberly is the first African American voted into such a position within the AICPA. 

But there remains much work to be done. The data continues to show that the profession lags in representation of both African Americans and Latinos as CPAs and firm partners. While the AICPA and its National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion continue efforts to close the gap, we find that our profession is not alone.  This year also highlighted that not only is the accounting profession struggling with equal representation of diverse talent, but so is the technical industry, as indicated by Intel’s and Microsoft’s multimillion dollar commitments to improve both gender and ethnic diversity within their workforces.

The legalization of same-sex marriage was also a significant focus in 2015, and requires the accounting profession to take notice.  Over the summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of striking down same-sex marriage bans in 13 states in Obergefell v. Hodges; granting same-sex couples the freedom to marry nationwide. This new ruling will impact how tax laws will be applied more equitably to same-sex couples and presents CPAs with additional service opportunities to advise couples on issues such as healthcare and estate planning. 

The more poignant and uncomfortable cases of discrimination on university campuses, protests against law enforcement, and the Paris—and now—U.S. terrorist attacks, makes our understanding and tolerance of others more than a business case for diversity and inclusion.  These dynamics in our society increase the importance of doing more than just tolerating difference. They make it imperative that we exist equally in a world of difference. 

The final 2015 edition of Inclusion Solutions highlights the most popular articles we’ve published in 2015.  I invite you to peruse the list of articles on best practices and news about diversity in corporate America. I think you’ll see how these articles can have an impact on your organization’s inclusion journey.

Kim Drumgo, MBA, PMP, Director, Diversity & Inclusion, American Institute of CPAs

Hands courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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