The Power of Inclusion
February is Black History Month. One benefit of all of the media coverage is having a chance to learn more about Black pioneers in our profession, such as John W. Cromwell Jr., who became the first Black CPA in the U.S. when he was licensed in 1921, and Mary Thelma Washington, who became the first Black woman licensed as a CPA in 1943. Our firm recently held our first Inclusive Insights session focused on the movie Rustin, which looked at the life of Bayard Rustin, an advisor to Martin Luther King Jr., which sparked a lot of discussion about the history of the Civil Rights Movement. We’ll be holding more Inclusive Insights sessions to give our associates and partners a space to discuss monthly DEI topics and build awareness and empathy.
As this movie and the earlier film Hidden Figures reminded many of us, American history is filled with unsung heroes who haven’t yet been recognized for their groundbreaking contributions to their fields. No doubt, with each passing year, more stories of “hidden figures” in every profession will be discovered and shared, and we’ll gain a more complete picture of the history of many industries.
Clearly, there is still considerable work to be done when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion in just about every field, and our knowledge of best practices is evolving by the day. With fewer people getting accounting degrees in general and people of color underrepresented historically, change has come slowly to the accounting profession, but I am optimistic about the future. Many in our field are working to build a pipeline of talent, collaborating closely with educators to introduce more young people to the possibility of becoming CPAs and to ensure that they take the right coursework in high school to set them up to study accounting in college. That is an important foundation.
In the meantime, we will continue our work at Marcum to make sure everyone on our team feels a sense of inclusion. Only when someone feels welcome at work, will they be able to fully embrace the opportunities available, take the risks that lead to career growth, and thrive. My goal is for everyone on our team to feel they have access to mentoring, learning opportunities, and information that will help them advance and know they are appreciated and respected.
This means making efforts on many fronts simultaneously. We are home to a number of Associate Resource Groups, such as our Black ARG, AAPI ARG, Hispanic/Latinx ARG, Pride ARG, and Women’s ARG, to name just a few, which have been a valuable source of support, insight and fun for Marcum team members across the country. Today is our Black Trivia Event, where team members will test their knowledge of Black history, music, culture, and public figures. Then, coming up on February 20, everyone in the firm is invited to an African Drumming and Dance Class.
But inclusion is also about how employees experience the workplace day to day, whether they are getting feedback from a team member, attending a conference with colleagues, or serving a client. As a Firm, we will continue to do all we can to build on a culture that has helped us attract top professionals from every background. For decades. We want everyone who joins our workforce to feel the sky is the limit when it comes to realizing their full career potential.
Tomorrow is the Lunar New Year, one of the most important holidays in many Asian cultures. This year, 2024, is the Year of the Dragon. To those who celebrate, Happy Lunar New Year!