How Diverse is Your Accounting Team?

29 April 2022 Steve Merritt

Diversity

​Diversity and experiencing inclusion have never been more important to Accounting employees.

Now more than ever, the top talent in your industry wants to work with companies capable of offering diverse, flexible, and empathetic working environments. The concept of D.E.I. (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) is a major factor in determining which candidates are likely to apply for your new roles and whether your existing staff will stick around.

Research consistently demonstrates diverse companies are more innovative and creative because they allow for the melding of different perspectives. According to one McKinsey study, diverse teams are 35% more likely to achieve above-average financial returns for your organisation/company.

Unfortunately, although most accounting employers are beginning to recognise the need for diversity, ensuring you have a process to embrace D.E.I. can be complex. It’s easy to fall into patterns with your hiring strategies that diminish diversity opportunities.

So, what can you do?

1. Develop an Understanding of Diversity

First, build an understanding of what accounting diversity means. For most companies, diversity starts with ensuring their team members include people from different genders, races, and religions. However, it’s important not to overlook other concepts like language and personality, sexual orientation, age, and disability.

Business leaders can often struggle with diversity when they’re unsure what it means. It’s difficult to be all-inclusive when you’re unsure what kind of hidden biases might influence your hiring and promotional decisions.

If you are uncertain about your diversity process, there are online and offline training programmes available to help business leaders and hiring managers question their thought processes and improve their understanding of diversity.

Expanding your education can also help you see how detrimental a lack of diversity can be. It doesn’t only damage business creativity but can also reduce employee engagement and lead to issues with internal conflict.

2. Rethink Cultural Fit

The concept of “cultural fit” is referenced by many accounting hiring managers when looking for new candidates to fill essential roles. Companies want candidates who will blend well with the existing employees in a team.

However, hiring for cultural fit can be a subjective process if you’re not careful. It’s easy to let your perspective of this concept lead you to hire only people from a certain personality group. While it’s important to ensure everyone in your team feels like a welcome part of the talent mix, it is crucial to allow different insights and perspectives from various backgrounds.

Rather than relying entirely on the somewhat intangible concept of cultural fit, try flipping the script and asking what each potential candidate might be able to add to your culture. Focus on hiring people with shared values and ethics rather than similar personalities.

3. Constantly Check for Bias

Bias can be a serious problem in many parts of the accounting hiring landscape because it is often unconscious. Sometimes, we specifically find ourselves searching for a certain kind of person to fill a role because we’re trying to match a person who held the position previously.

Other times, we might be influenced by biases which we’re not aware of initially. For instance, you might decide to hire someone because you’ve been affected by what they’re wearing or how much you like their personality.

Though hiring bias is difficult to avoid completely, it’s something you can overcome with mindfulness and some helpful strategies. For instance, using competency-based interviews with standardised interview questions can be beneficial.

4. Improve Your Recruiting Strategy

Recruitment is often the part of building a diverse accounting team that business leaders need the most help with. Ultimately, it’s hard to maintain a completely objective approach to finding candidates and working through potential options.

Some of the ways you can adjust your recruitment plans for diversity include:

  • Updating job descriptions: Rethink the language you use when writing job descriptions, and avoid words with a specific gender appeal.

  • Casting a wider net: Listing your jobs in more places and looking for candidates in a wider range of environments can help you attract a more diverse range of talented people. You could even consider looking for people in colleges and universities.

  • Use technology: Technology like diversity recruiting software and A.I. tools to help sort through and shortlist clients can help businesses overcome several unconscious biases.

The easiest way to improve your recruitment strategy is to work with a dedicated accounting recruitment professional who understands your specific needs and can help to give you a more objective strategy for finding new talent.

Many specialist recruiters like ourselves are trained in D.E.I. and proactively build diverse talent pools of accounting candidates; if you want to find out more about how we can help you implement a D.E.I. hiring process, get in contact with us here.

5. Remember inclusion

Once you have implemented the process of recruiting diverse members of staff for your team, the next step is ensuring everyone feels equally included in your accounting team. Being more diverse is an admirable ambition for any business, but it doesn’t work if some staff members feel more valued or “seen” than others.

Work on building a more inclusive environment by regularly collecting feedback from all staff members. Your team can offer insights into whether you’re still showing any unconscious biases.

It’s also helpful to look at your paths for career advancement in the business. What kind of steps do employees need to take to improve their chances of a promotion, and are certain team members more likely to be considered than others?

You can even look into building your diversity and inclusion committee, which can help collect insights from other staff members and solve issues.

Steve Merritt

Managing Director | Hedley Scott Recruitment

Level 12, 64 York Street, Sydney 2000

M: 0404 426 749

E: steve.merritt@hedleyscott.com.au

W: www.hedleyscott.com.au