In my new role as director of diversity and inclusion (D&I) at IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants), I work with the D&I Committee to enhance and support D&I efforts within the global organization. I’m excited to embrace a role that’s in alignment with my passion for attracting a diverse pool of students and professionals to careers in management accounting and finance.
With more than 100,000 members around the world, IMA has dedicated increasing resources to boost inclusivity within the organization and attract a pipeline of diverse finance and accounting professionals and students.
November is the month of giving, and it’s important to ensure we keep in mind every ethnicity, background, and community when giving back.
THE MONTH OF GIVING
November is a time to be thankful for what we have and to give back to our communities and small businesses. The month of giving celebrates the generosity and volunteerism of people of all backgrounds, which encourages a sense of unity and inclusiveness of all ethnicities and nationalities.
It started in 2012 when a New-York-based nonprofit cultural and community center created #GivingTuesday on Twitter to highlight the charitable season surrounding the commercialized Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Since then, it has evolved into a monthlong celebration of volunteering your time, donating money and goods, and truly making our communities better.
At IMA, we have created an innovation council called STAT (Synergy Toward Achievement Team), which encourages community outreach. For example, we currently are hosting a coat drive for veterans. In the past, the council has collected school supplies for a local school, food for a local shelter around Thanksgiving time, and donations for breast cancer awareness month.
You and your organization can get involved, too. Choose a charity, talk with your manager, and organize the drive with your colleagues. Not only will you be giving back to your community, but you will also be unifying your organization.
OVERCOMING UNCONSCIOUS BIAS
IMA highlighted unconscious bias and how to overcome these challenges at our Annual Conference this year. Presenter Roopa Venkatesh, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a member of the D&I Committee, shared her personal experiences with unconscious bias that professional women encounter all the time.
Specifically, she described a time early in her career in which she was torn between work and caring for her daughter. She overcame these challenges with the nonjudgmental support of her employers.
For a lot of us, a lack of knowledge of different cultures and perspectives prohibits us from extending ourselves to different communities. There may be communities that we think are well-off financially, but there may be other needs where community outreach is appreciated.
If you are unaware of the needs of the community, you are less likely to extend yourself. For example, breast cancer awareness is big in the public eye, but there are organizations addressing other health-related or mental-health-related issues, such as Alzheimer’s, advocacy for bullied LGBTQ youth, or post-traumatic stress disorder, that may need help as well.
As the largest global organization dedicated to the management accounting and finance profession, IMA strives to ensure that all our members have the opportunity to share their perspective and get involved in the community. And creating an inclusive organizational culture for its employees helps IMA turn D&I into a competitive advantage and strengthens the IMA brand.