The California Society of CPAs (CalCPA), the nation’s largest state CPA society, announced last August that it has formed a special commission focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) issues in the CPA profession. The 25-member CalCPA DE&I Commission (CDEIC) is chaired by Kathy A. Johnson, CPA, CGMA, MBA, vice president of forensic accounting at J.S. Held LLC. Johnson is a former chair of CalCPA’s board of directors and focused on diversity and inclusion during her tenure as chair. Brad Monterio, CalCPA’s Chief Learning Officer and vice president of Member Competency & Learning, will serve as the commission’s vice chair. Monterio is also involved with other diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the accounting and actuarial professions. CalCPA President and CEO Anthony Pugliese, CPA, CGMA, CITP, is also a member of the commission.

The purpose of the CalCPA DE&I Commission is to:

• Embrace DE&I as drivers of satisfaction and engagement, as well as organizational resilience, innovation, value and growth in the accounting profession;

 
• Serve as a DE&I thought leader, advocate and resource for members, staff and partners while tapping into the worldwide DE&I body of knowledge and the collective experiences of CalCPA members, staff and partners; and


• Recommend and execute on strategies, approaches, programs, services and research that will help CalCPA leverage DE&I as a competitive advantage, develop pipelines of future accounting leaders and members, cultivate diverse and inclusive professional staff, attract partners who follow DE&I best practices and lead the accounting and finance profession of the future.

“Recent events in the US have turned a spotlight on diversity, equity and inclusion and the need for better education, awareness and cultural change across business and society,” said Johnson. “Our goal is to not just talk about the DE&I issues and problems our profession is facing, but to be part of the solution—to actually do something and effect real change—so that the future of our accounting profession is sustainable as well as diverse, equitable and inclusive.”


The commission was developed as part of CalCPA’s 90-day plan to catalyze efforts to solve DE&I challenges in the accounting profession in California, including attracting and retaining marginalized groups in public accounting and industry.


“Forming the commission is just a first step for CalCPA,” said Monterio. “We are planning to be part of real DE&I solutions that drive change. For example, we are undertaking multi-phase research with our partner, the Institute of Management Accountants, on race and ethnicity, gender, orientation and diversity of thought that relate to recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in the accounting profession. We plan to use the results and insights from this research to provide guidance and resources to CPAs and the businesses that hire them.”

 
Recent research highlighted in a 2019 report from the World Economic Forum shows that diversity, equity and inclusion bring many advantages to organizations that include “increased profitability and creativity, stronger governance and better problem-solving abilities.” This report also emphasized that employees with diverse backgrounds bring their own unique perspectives, ideas and experiences together to solve business challenges and drive resiliency, innovation and value creation. As a result, these organizations tend to outperform those who don’t invest similarly in DE&I.


“Following good diversity, equity and inclusion practices is not just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense too—the future sustainability of our profession depends on it,” added Johnson.

CalCPA traces its heritage to 1903 when the California State Society of Certified Public Accountants was organized. In 1909, it merged with two other state CPA associations to form CalCPA. CalCPA serves more than 45,000 members in public practice, private industry, academia and government and has 14 chapters across California. CalCPA also offers more than 1,400 live courses, conferences, webcasts and on-demand self-study courses annually. For more information, visit calcpa.org.

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