CalCPA forms diversity commission


The California Society of CPAs has created a commission to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion issues in the CPA profession.

The 25-member CalCPA DE&I Commission (CDEIC) will be chaired by Kathy A. Johnson, vice president of forensic accounting at J.S. Held LLC. Johnson is a former chair of CalCPA’s board of directors and has focused on diversity and inclusion during her tenure as chair.

Brad Monterio, CalCPA’s chief learning officer and vice president of member competency and learning, will be vice chair. CalCPA president and CEO Anthony Pugliese is a member of the commission.

The purpose of the CalCPA DE&I Commission is to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion as drivers of satisfaction and engagement, along with organizational resilience, innovation, value and growth in the accounting profession. The commission will provide thought leadership, advocacy and resources for CalCPA members, staff and partners while tapping into the global body of knowledge on DE&I and the collective experiences of CalCPA members, staff and partners.

The new commission is also going to recommend and execute on strategies, approaches, programs, services and research to 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.

CalCPA recently teamed up with the Institute of Management Accountants on a research program focused on diversity, equity and inclusion and the talent pipeline in finance and accounting (see story). In June, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police that sparked worldwide protests, Pugliese issued a statement along with plans to address the situation at CalCPA in the near future (see story). The new commission is part of that response.

“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 in a statement last week. “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 is 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 in a statement. “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.”

A 2019 report from the World Economic Forum found that D,E&I brings many benefits to organizations, including “increased profitability and creativity, stronger governance and better problem-solving abilities.” The report emphasized that employees with diverse backgrounds bring unique perspectives, ideas and experiences to solve business challenges and drive resiliency, innovation and value creation, CalCPA pointed out. As a result, organizations who invest in DE&I tend to outperform those who don’t invest similarly.

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

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