As Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee at IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants), I am pleased to share my personal experiences and to highlight the Committee’s accomplishments, as well as our goals and initiatives going forward.From a personal perspective, I have practiced inclusion and diversity throughout my life. But what does that mean? Diversity is the understanding and recognition of individual differences and identities, while inclusion is the practice of full participation within a group or structure while retaining one’s unique identity. I was born in the South and have lived there all my life, so I recognize that everyone should embrace and celebrate differences. While I was fortunate to come from a family environment in which we were taught to be tolerant, respectful, and inclusive of all people, I have seen individuals from different backgrounds excluded because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender. Considering my upbringing, firsthand experiences, and personal beliefs, I was eager to accept the opportunity to participate on the Committee.
IMA’S COMMITTEES ON DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
As a global organization, IMA recognizes the importance of diversity and inclusion. With that priority in mind, in June 2015 the members of the IMA Global Board of Directors approved a Diversity Thought Leadership Pipeline (DTLP) Committee, which would have a one-year term. IMA Online News published the following description in “IMA Takes a Stand on Diversity”:
Having a diverse pool of members, thoughts, and ideas is how organizations thrive. With the creation of a new Diversity and Inclusion Statement and a Diversity Thought Leadership Pipeline Committee, IMA Management is proud to ensure that all members of diverse backgrounds and geographic locations will have representation throughout the organization to help provide critical input in the success of IMA.
To aid in this initiative, IMA’s Diversity Thought Leadership Pipeline Committee was established to create a community within IMA’s membership around diversity and inclusion topics, assist in identifying ways to strengthen volunteer engagement among underrepresented groups, and develop resources to increase the cultural competency of association professionals and staff.
In this foundational year, the Committee looked at internal processes, including the nominations process, membership recruitment and retention, and identification of factors to consider when developing new products and services. From there, the Committee researched best practices from other organizations and strategic partners and developed recommendations that could be presented to the Board in June 2016. The Volunteer Leadership Committee, led by Chair-Emeritus Joe Vincent, CMA, has played a strong role in supporting this Committee.
As part of its efforts, the Committee created the IMA D&I Statement:
The global governance of IMA acknowledges and embraces the diversity of our membership and considers an inclusive atmosphere essential. Through the backgrounds and experiences of our global membership base, we gain perspective and insights that impact the strategic and operational direction of our organization. Our global diversity also provides new ideas and alternative perspectives that expand IMA’s contribution to the profession.
IMA enjoys a very diverse membership. Diversity embraces the various backgrounds and celebrates the uniqueness of each culture within our membership. IMA appreciates that uniqueness and leverages it as an asset wherever possible.
Additionally during fiscal year 2016, staff members made several presentations to the Committee on critical areas that impact IMA’s D&I initiative. The DTLP Committee created the Diversity and Inclusion Statement and in April 2016 presented the revised Charter for the DTLP to the Volunteer Leadership Committee (VLC) for its approval. In the Charter, the name was changed to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee, which better aligns with the goals of the Charter. The Charter was approved by the Committee. As Committee chair, I presented the revised Charter to the Board of Directors on June 18, 2016, and made a motion on behalf of the VLC to the Board to approve the Charter with a term ending June 30, 2017. The Charter was approved by the IMA Global Board of Directors.
Moving forward, the D&I Committee’s goals and initiatives are to:
- Publish a Diversity column in Strategic Finance on a quarterly basis.
- Establish relationships with students from colleges and universities that have diverse student populations to strengthen volunteer participation among underrepresented groups utilizing the Leadership Experience Program and the Campus Influencers Program and at schools being considered for new student chapters.
- Review best practices of other organizations regarding diversity and inclusion.
- Build strategic partnerships with accounting and finance organizations with an ethnic focus.
The D&I Committee seeks to increase volunteer engagement among underrepresented groups and encourage them to earn their CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) credential. The Committee was provided demographics comparing 2015 and 2016, delineated by age, gender, ethnicity, and regions; this data will be used to identify areas that need improvement.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
We’ve come a long way since the years of segregation. In 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, a law prohibiting discrimination against certain protected classes, was passed. In the 1970s and 1980s, the focus shifted to Affirmative Action, which was created to promote equal opportunity. In the 1990s, diversity and inclusion became an integral cultural value within many organizations and corporations, and a much broader definition of diversity came to include race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, social economic status, age, physical disabilities, religious beliefs, and veteran status. Today, diversity and inclusion make a distinct correlation between the workplace and the world’s demographics to encourage innovation and teamwork and to be able to attract the best talent in the workforce.
Organizations today are working to adopt policies that embrace all individuals. IMA is no exception. In the coming years, IMA’s membership, and the accounting and financial profession in general, will continue to diversify. The number of underrepresented groups entering the workforce will continue to grow. Organizations will be managing a multigenerational workforce as the number of retirees continues to grow and younger workers begin their careers.
IMA is committed to embracing diversity and inclusion as a critical success factor to the growth of our membership and the sustainability of our organization. I am proud to be a member of the D&I Committee and want to thank everyone who has contributed to its success. Anyone who is interested in becoming a part of the D&I Committee can contact me at email@example.com.