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Diversity & inclusion manager ready to advance OSCPA efforts

Written on May 1, 2020

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

It’s one thing to talk about the need for more diversity and inclusion in the accounting profession; it’s another to implement effective processes.

Austin“Yes, D&I can seem like a daunting undertaking—emotionally, intellectually and practically—but, there’s no ‘one way’ to do it, which I appreciate,” said Sierra Austin, OSCPA’s new diversity and inclusion manager.

Austin joins the OSCPA staff from a doctoral program at The Ohio State University (OSU), where her dissertation focused on identity, educational equity and social justice. She’s taught and published at OSU and Purdue University. Along with her teaching background, she’s also served as the Director of Leadership & Inclusion Programs at YWCA Columbus and worked with traditional and non-traditional undergraduate students, including K-12 students.

“I love the passion invoked in youth who view the world through a lens of fairness and eagerly want to do their part to effect change,” she said. “I also very much enjoy working directly with members of the Columbus community and of course, colleagues, senior leadership, and board & committee members.”

She’s tasked with exposing students to accounting careers and promoting the CPA credential through programming with a D&I focus, including the Accounting Careers Leadership Academy, ACAP-Ohio, ASPIRE, CPA (Careers in Accounting) Camp, STRIVE (Success Through Retention, Inclusion, Visibility and Engagement) and Accounting Career Days. She’s also responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with organizational partners that promote diversity and inclusion, serving as a staff liaison to member taskforces and committees charged with developing and implementing D&I initiatives, as well as measuring and evaluating program and initiative effectiveness.

She said she’s looking forward to developing retention efforts, and cites the skills training, scholarships, free student membership, and networking and mentoring opportunities as important parts of the Society’s efforts in building the pipeline.

“OSCPA has been explicit in asking, ‘Where are we now? Where do we want to go? How will we get there?’ and, ‘How do we know when we’ve arrived in terms of D&I growth?’” she said.

Austin mentioned the importance of leaders demonstrating a culture with principles of respect, value, appreciation and teamwork, all of which enable diversity and inclusion efforts to be more successful. OSCPA has worked hard in this area for years, and in 2016 received the Corporate Diversity Award from OSU’s Fisher College of Business in recognition of OSCPA’s D&I programming.

“OSCPA is committed to diversifying the accounting pipeline so that the future of the field is representative of the communities it serves,” Austin said. “Not only is The Society promoting diversity and inclusion, but also retention, which is equally important.”