Leadership / Management | Organizational Development

Inclusion: A key battle in the talent war

When will the CPA profession be inclusive and more diverse?

When we no longer have to about inclusion and diversity. When those values are baked into the DNA of every finance team and CPA firm out there. When they’re so ingrained in our businesses that no one sees them as problems anymore.

We’re not there yet. So let’s talk about inclusion and diversity, shall we?

More than half of Deloitte’s Board of Directors is made up of either women or people of color. They were placed there not because they are women or people of color, but because they were the best candidates for the post. Deloitte has created an environment where all people can succeed.

That’s inclusion. It’s that sweet spot where, as Vince Lombardi once said, “the achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual."

A lofty goal, to be sure. But it also might be the most important initiative we can pursue today.

Here’s why: Too many boomers are retiring, and there aren’t enough Gen Xers to take their places. The race is on to attract the top millennial talent in the land and fast-track them for leadership spots.

“Those who win the battle for talent will win the war,” Deloitte’s chief inclusion officer, Deborah DeHaas, told the crowd at the 2014 Winning is Everything Conference. “The talent pool is much more diverse today — many more women, many more under-represented minorities. They look at our more traditional leadership roles and don’t see people who look like themselves. To attract the top talent, we need to create an environment of inclusion throughout the profession so we’ll have the best people going forward.”

Getting there, DeHaas said, requires three things:

  1. The right values: Inclusion and diversity must be at the core of everything the organization does and believes.
  2. The right culture: Employees must feel valued for who they are and what they bring to the organization. They must also feel as though their work matters, and that their employers give them the flexibility they need to live their lives.
  3. The right leadership: The C-suite must buy into the belief so that it cascades down throughout every level of the organization.

Just talking about it is a step in the right direction, but the profession has gone further. The AICPA has launched inclusion initiatives and bids to bring more women to the profession, and those projects have started the conversation.

It’s up to us to finish them — to keep talking about this stuff until we don’t have to talk it it anymore.

I spoke with DeHaas after her Winning is Everything presentation. Listen to our conversation it is entirety.


Bill Sheridan