Generational Viewpoints: Diverse takes on diversity
This edition of Generational Viewpoints features two professionals from RSM US LLP, a 9,000-plus-person firm with locations worldwide. We asked Richard Caturano, Baby Boomer national leader for culture, diversity and inclusion and past chairman of the American Institute of CPAs, born in 1953, and Millennial project manager and Generations Employee Network Group leader Irna Lubis, born in 1985, to share their perspectives on this: “From your perspective, why is diversity and inclusion so important in today’s workplace?”
CATURANO’S BABY BOOMER VIEWPOINT
At RSM, our core values of respect, integrity, teamwork, excellence and stewardship guide everything we do. When we apply those values to our people, it’s clear: The best way to ensure we’re bringing the innovative thinking that our clients require is by having a high-performing team of people who are representative of the population.
During my role as chairman with the AICPA, I sought to learn about the challenges in our profession. One of the biggest challenges I found was that leaders of U.S. professional services firms often viewed diversity and inclusion as someone else’s challenge. As a white male from an Italian immigrant family, I didn’t know what drove diversity in the workplace or what inclusion and unconscious bias meant. I became involved in diversity and inclusion initiatives with the AICPA, where I learned from others about the role that intentional inclusion plays in driving employee engagement and elevating performance.
I now understand the importance of embracing diversity and inclusion, and the rest of the RSM leadership team does, too. In 2013, our managing partner and CEO Joe Adams named me the national leader of our firm’s culture, diversity and inclusion efforts.
One way that we focus on enhancing culture, diversity and inclusion is through our employee network groups. Our 11 ENGs encourage people of like interests and backgrounds to use those commonalities to benefit our clients, business and team members.
Diversity and inclusion is embraced at RSM, and it started at the top with our senior leaders. Now, our people are driving engagement and inclusion. Regardless of what’s going on in the world, we have our “island” at RSM, where people feel welcomed and valued for the diversity of their gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation and anything else. Offering an inclusive environment that fosters innovation and creativity provides our people with opportunities to be truly valuable contributors. When our employees bring their real selves to work, we get better results at RSM because our clients get the best we have to offer.
LUBIS’ MILLENNIAL VIEWPOINT
I am one of six leaders of RSM US LLP’s Generations Employee Network Group. Our group’s mission is to “promote all dimensions of diversity by fostering a culture of respect and understanding among multiple generations that coexist within the firm.” One of the common misconceptions of the Generations ENG is that it’s only focused on Millennials. The group is open to everyone, because everyone is part of a generational cohort.
One common challenge we face at our firm is retention of our next generation of leaders. The reasons why Millennials and others leave an organization are as varied as the individuals themselves. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and our leaders at RSM understand that. Over the past two years, I’ve seen many changes in our firm’s policies and benefits that make RSM more attractive to candidates and current employees. One of the easiest initiatives the firm rolled out that everyone seems to enjoy, regardless of generation, is the “dress for your day” policy.
Promoting diversity and inclusion is an ongoing endeavor. In my specific office, our generational diversity is vastly apparent. Something I really appreciate about the partners and principals in my office is that they involve our Millennials in many of their daily activities — prospect lunches, industry networking events, white-boarding sessions with clients, attending webcasts on new service offerings and more. An important characteristic about embracing diversity is that you can’t “fake” it. The work culture either has diversity or it doesn’t. I’m proud that our firm has made significant headway in the past three years to bring that awareness to the forefront and to promote enhanced culture, diversity and inclusion at RSM. To maintain this progress, we need the continued internal support from our leaders. Then, we as employees must take the initiative to learn how we can individually adopt practices in our daily lives to understand generational differences and use that knowledge to identify opportunities for positive change.
This column is facilitated and edited by Brianna Johnson, the Millennial consultant, and Jennifer Wilson, the Baby Boomer co-founder and partner, of ConvergenceCoaching LLC, a leadership and management consulting and coaching firm that helps leaders achieve success. To have your firm’s generational viewpoints considered for a future Accounting Tomorrow column, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.