The vestiges of inequality, however, are difficult to dismantle. It takes creative, purposeful, and decisive action to combat biases so that there’s a culture of mutual respect and sense of belonging among all individuals.
The challenges of DE&I have been at the forefront of my term as IMA Chair. It’s a topic I care deeply about. Recently, I had the privilege of meeting with Guylaine Saint Juste, CEO and president, and Herschel Frierson, chairman, of NABA Inc. (formerly National Association of Black Accountants), the world’s largest association representing the interests of Black accounting, finance, and related business professionals.
NABA was started in December 1969, when nine African American financial leaders met in New York City to discuss the unique challenges and limited opportunities they faced in the accounting profession. At that time, there were only 136 African American Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) out of a total of 100,000 CPAs in the United States. This group wanted to establish an organization to address the concerns of Black professionals entering the accounting field. Today, according to the National Society of Black CPAs, fewer than 1% of CPAs in the U.S. are Black, which shows how much of a journey we still have ahead of us to achieve greater equality.
This past fall, IMA signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NABA to outline our goals for mutual collaboration between our two organizations. The alliance was forged following a groundbreaking DE&I research series that culminated in a capstone report, Diversifying Global Accounting Talent: Actionable Solutions for Progress, in which IMA was a sponsor and NABA a research partner.
Under the new alliance, IMA and NABA will work together to support each other’s mission and reduce inequalities for Black people in the accounting pipeline by cross-promoting membership opportunities and the benefits of both organizations to professionals and students. Students will have the ability to join both organizations for free, and professional members of each organization will be able to join the partner organization at a reduced rate. IMA also will sponsor a select number of students and NABA professional members to participate in a complimentary CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) self-study cohort and pursue the CMA.
IMA and NABA will aim to enhance opportunities for Black students and professionals through joint webinars, podcasts, speaking engagements, published articles, and cohort meetings. Through this MOU, both IMA and NABA are helping to achieve progress toward three key United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Quality Education, Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Reduced Inequalities.
For me, this alliance exemplifies what DE&I is all about: understanding needs, removing barriers, and consistently providing opportunities for development and growth.
Are there opportunities in your own life, within your organization, or in your wider sphere of influence where you can make a difference toward DE&I progress? I challenge IMA members to seek out those opportunities and be a positive force for change.