Diversity and inclusion in the workplace has improved over the just-ended decade, but there remains more ground to cover.
“What I have observed is that it's going to take a lot more thoughtful conversations – authentic conversations,” said Margaret Finley. “Where people can come to the table and really express themselves, what they're thinking, what's getting in the way and be able to hear each other.”
Finley joined on the State of Business podcast this week to discuss her new role at OSCPA as the Society’s diversity and inclusion strategist and consultant, what developments are still needed in D+I and the inaugural diversity summit in August.
She will lead the strategy and execution for D+I at the Society, specifically as it relates to the three-year strategic plan. Finley has experience in for-profit and nonprofit sectors, with a focus on learning, development and leadership development. Throughout these roles she’s been heavily involved in D+I.
“When I think about diversity and inclusion, I think one of the things that we all have in common just as human beings is that we want to have a sense of belonging,” she said. “And so, I tie D+I to that. Can you bring your authentic and your entire self to work each and every day? And I think that is where the struggle remains.”
She noted that throughout her work she’s heard individuals mention leaving part of their identities out of the workplace, for fear of rejection or alienation from peers. This is an issue Finley said leaders need to keep top of mind. If you’re in a leadership position, ask yourself if you’re allowing each person on the team to bring their entire selves to work and what that would look like.
Although the business case for diversity and inclusion has been made, some people still shy away from the topic for fear of saying the wrong thing or offending someone. Changing that will require work on all sides, Finley said.
“Diversity is one of those things that sometimes is uncomfortable, because at the end of the day, we all have very unique experiences,” she said. “And I think the magic of diversity is bringing all that together and figuring out how to work in a cohesive manner. And it's not about perfection, but it is about everyone being able to have a say at the table.”
Facilitating conversation and action around D+I is a responsibility OSCPA takes seriously, and is one reason it will hold its inaugural D+I Summit on Aug. 13. Called “Crossing Bridges Summit 2020: Advancing Diversity & Inclusion,” the event will cover best practices and how to advance diversity in the accounting profession.
“We're going to have thought leaders and practitioners come together for these vital conversations,” she said. “But we have work to do after the summit. How do we build this action plan to evolve our journey? And then ultimately, how do we sustain these conversations and have a sense of accountability?”