There is growing diversity within CPA firms, and it is taking many forms. For example, the male domination is beginning to wane. This is especially seen at the entry level and is working its way up. There are four distinct generations in the profession, with sharply different views of work and possessing unique skill sets. Then there is the greater influence of marketers, firm administrators, and technologists in firm operations. And don’t forget the more traditional diversity with regard to different cultures and races.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I was intrigued by Appendix 4, Strategies for Leveraging Diversity, in the 1998 classic, Working With Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman. The strategies described were developed by Claude Steele, a Stanford psychologist, who studied the emotional dynamics that undermine the performance of minority group members.

Steele cites the importance of optimistic leaders who affirm the ability of people, of providing challenges that convey respect for the person’s potential and are calibrated to the person’s skills, and on emphasizing learning. Equally significant, he believes, is the importance of affirming a sense of belonging, valuing multiple perspectives, providing role models, and building self-confidence though Socratic feedback.

What I found so amazing are that those tips, though developed for improving the success of racial diversity, would seem to be ideal for furthering the various diversities within the accounting profession. Working with Emotional Intelligence also stresses the importance of self-awareness, defined as knowing one’s internal states, preferences, and intuitions, as well as the importance of empathy, defined as an awareness of others’ feelings, needs, and concerns.

In order to accomplish true diversity within the profession, self-awareness and empathy must go hand-in-hand with any strategies. ----------------------Comment on earlier column and hyperlink--------------------
The text that follows is from an e-mail that I received commenting on my column from last week entitled “Desperately Needed: Prolonged Professional Life Expectancy.”

You are so spot on with this column. I have been predicting that the retirees will be the "salvation" of the profession for years.  For example, I know a CPA here in Los Angeles who is in his late 70s and still puts in about 1,800 chargeable hours per year. What a resource for his firm!

Mitchell Freedman, CPA/PFS, AIF®
MFAC Financial Advisors, Inc.
Mitchell Freedman Accountancy Corporation
 Sherman Oaks, Calif.

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