IMA Volunteerism: Legacy of ServiceBy
I grew up in a home where my parents volunteered regularly for school and community activities. My mother was very involved with the state Parent Teacher Association, and both parents regularly catered luncheons for senior citizens in our small rural community in eastern Arkansas.
Not surprisingly, when I saw an opportunity to get involved with IMA®, my parents were supportive, reminding me that volunteering is about helping improve an organization, community, or profession by changing people’s lives.
My IMA volunteer service began with the Global Standing Advisory Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee. I’ve worked at organizations that were very diverse and others that clearly weren’t. Time and again I’ve found those that were more diverse and offered an inclusive environment achieved greater success and were better able to tackle new markets or discover new products and services.
In the three years I’ve served on the D&I Committee (I’m the current chair), I’ve seen the discussion about D&I transform from an historical mind-set to one that concentrates on and values how diversity creates opportunity. I’ve been part of IMA’s effort to reach out to minority communities in the United States, improve professional standards in accounting and finance, attract the next generation of accountants by developing students and young professionals, and empower women to discover opportunities for career advancement and professional networking.
My service on the committee has given me some great experience. I’ve provided education on D&I-related topics to the IMA Global Board of Directors, staff, councils and chapters, Student Leadership Conference attendees, and, this past June, to attendees at the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) annual convention. I’ve also helped stoke the conversation around diversity beyond traditional factors of race, national origin, and gender to discuss how the profession is valuing diversity of experience and other nonvisible forms of diversity such as neurodiversity and socioeconomic diversity.
Through all of this, I’ve been blessed to meet people who helped me better understand challenges like systemic poverty in developing countries and students’ perception that accounting and finance aren’t inclusive professions. IMA must utilize its volunteers to get the message of opportunity and inclusivity out to individuals around the world in order to continue to attract future professionals and keep the profession relevant.
My D&I Committee involvement also has led me to take on other volunteer roles, including Nation’s Capital Chapter president, Global Board member, chair of the Annual Conference Program Committee and several ad-hoc committees related to young professionals, and serving as a Campus Influencer.
I believe IMA has improved the profession in many ways, including helping write the script on D&I. I hope that, through continued volunteer efforts, we can ensure people of various backgrounds can find their place and succeed in the accounting and finance professions.