Bringing out everyone's best

Chair's Message

by Jeffrey J. White, CPA, CGMA | November 2017 Footnote

Consider this quote from Darcy Eikenberg, executive coach of RedCapeRevolution.com: "... Diversity isn't an initiative; it's us."

Darcy's words ring loud and true, especially for me (you may recall reading about my very diverse background in the April 2017 Footnote). I have spent my whole life interacting with a wide variety of people in my social and professional circles. Most of my friends and colleagues don't look like me nor come from similar cultures as mine, but these experiences motivate me to continue to seek a diverse community. It's both a familiar and continued growing experience.

Speaking of my professional circles, I promised in the last Footnote to share with you why my own company is so diverse and inclusive. In my company, I surround myself with people who have a wide variety of ages, ethnicities, cultures and experiences. I am very aware and deliberate of the choices I make about with whom I work and play. I challenge myself to consider if I am being unconsciously biased, and seek out knowledge from those whose perspectives are different than mine.

We recently hired an accounting clerk. We did our best to meet with people that included different ethnicities, genders and generations. Our goal was not to hire based on cultural background or age, but to be sure we had a good variety of diverse candidates from which to choose. Then, after conducting our interviews, we based our final decision on the candidate's knowledge, experience and potential to be a good fit. Our success with achieving diversity is largely due to keeping an open mind about who we want on our team. After all, diversity is about creating a team full of members who possess different experiences, personalities and backgrounds, and engaging each individual to bring out the best in everyone.

As a business owner, I have a variety of roles to fill. I acknowledge that many of you need to build teams largely composed of CPAs, and that there is not a large pool of diverse candidates from which to choose. Also, you might live in a community that is not as diverse as some of the larger cities in our state. If this resembles your situation, consider mentoring some of the up-and-coming talent from diverse communities. Volunteer to visit with your local high schools and talk to students about our profession. Finally, you don't have to limit yourself by focusing on just ethnic diversity. Diversity comes in all forms. It is ethnicity, as well as cultural and personal experiences, that make us unique.

I believe the most important part of this conversation is the action of inclusion. You can have a rainbow of talent, but if you're not including them, it doesn't matter. On the surface, the concept of inclusion seems pretty simple. However, if you are going to truly include someone in a group decision, you need to be mindful and deliberate.

Former auto executive Lee Iacocca once said, "One of the most important lessons I learned in business was that if all you're getting from your team is a single point of view -- usually your point of view -- you've got to worry. You can get your own point of view for free."

I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Jeffrey J. White, CPA, CGMA