With more than 100,000 members around the world as well as employees based in the Americas, Asia/Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and India, IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) strongly believes in the value of embracing diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategies. 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 organization. And creating an inclusive organizational culture for its employees helps IMA turn D&I into a competitive advantage and strengthens the IMA brand.

Like other organizations and companies working to improve D&I, IMA has faced its share of challenges while also achieving milestones. Let’s take a look at the variety of efforts and methods IMA uses to encourage greater diversity and inclusion among the accounting and finance profession, IMA membership, and IMA staff.


Recognizing that support from top leadership is a critical success factor in D&I initiatives, the IMA Global Board of Directors approved the development of the D&I Committee in June 2015. Consisting of IMA volunteers and working with staff, the Committee’s goal is to enhance and support D&I efforts within the organization.

During its first 12 months, the Committee formulated a D&I statement for IMA, available at http://bit.ly/2pg947a. It also surveyed IMA members to gauge how aware they were of the nominations process to be considered for positions on the Global Board of Directors—the first step in ensuring greater participation among the volunteer leaders of the organization. (Information about volunteer engagement opportunities can be found at http://bit.ly/2MCXw76.) Nominations for the Global Board of Directors for the 2020 fiscal year will be open through October 26, 2018. Members interested in serving on the Board are encouraged to check out the responsibilities of the role and the criteria required for consideration.

In July 2017, the D&I Committee became a standing advisory committee. Committee members work in various focus groups that concentrate on specific D&I issues, such as member and organizational outreach, review of IMA’s ecosystem to determine the expansion of stakeholders, tactics that IMA can utilize to measure its progress with D&I activities, and visuals that capture IMA’s diverse members and staff.


A connection with accounting and finance students at colleges and universities with diverse student populations plays a critical role in IMA’s efforts to develop a diverse leadership pipeline. The general objective is to increase awareness about IMA, the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification, and career opportunities within the management accounting profession. That outreach includes campus visits by IMA staff and members involved in the Campus Influencers program as well as IMA and CMA presentations conducted remotely.

One particular area of student outreach involves schools with diverse student populations, primarily at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). As Theresa Hammond notes in her book, A White-Collar Profession: African American Certified Public Accountants since 1921, less than 1% of CPAs are African American, which is a smaller percentage than in any other major profession. IMA has reached out to accounting chairs and business school deans at HBCUs with accounting programs, as well as the students, to increase awareness about the CMA along with the multitude of career options available to accounting students. These efforts have led to faculty becoming IMA Campus Advocates and nominating students for CMA scholarships. Some HBCU students have become members of the IMA Accounting Honor Society.


IMA’s D&I Committee members have played an integral role in providing D&I training and education to IMA members, volunteer leaders, and staff. In October 2017, for example, I moderated the first pilot workshop for IMA’s staff about D&I practices while Brad Monterio and Derek Fuzzell, members of IMA’s D&I Committee and the Global Board of Directors, served as facilitators. The training session allowed staff to provide feedback on how the session should be presented to members in IMA’s Leadership Academy webinar series.

Roopa Venkatesh, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a member of the D&I Committee, was a presenter at IMA’s 2018 Annual Conference, where she shared personal experiences regarding unconscious bias.

IMA chapter and council events also provide forums for training on diversity and inclusion topics. IMA’s D&I Committee facilitated a session for chapter and council leaders, explaining how D&I practices can be incorporated within their groups and work environments. This was a great opportunity to connect with chapter and council leaders to determine interest in D&I training as part of their regional conferences and local chapter events.


Establishing strategic partnerships with other organizations that support the accounting profession is critical for IMA to develop a diverse leadership pipeline. IMA has a relationship with the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). I’ve made presentations to its student and professional members, and Jeannine Brown, former NABA board member, participated in IMA’s Inside Talk webinar series to discuss perceptions of D&I practices among Generations X, Y, and Z.

IMA recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA). I had the pleasure of participating as a panelist at the association’s national convention and informing attendees about the benefits of becoming an IMA member and CMA. I’m hopeful that IMA’s affiliation with NABA and ALPFA will continue to further efforts to develop a diverse student and professional membership pipeline.


On July 1, 2018, I was appointed IMA’s director of diversity and inclusion. IMA created this new staff position in recognition of the importance of providing resources and staff who can devote 100% of their time and attention toward IMA’s D&I initiatives. Prior to this appointment, I was involved in IMA’s D&I efforts as part of my responsibilities as IMA’s director of technical accounting activities. 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.

Buy-in and assistance from all of IMA’s stakeholders are critical for me to be an effective leader of IMA’s D&I initiatives. Please contact me at lmills@imanet.org to share your thoughts on how we can collaborate to develop a diverse leadership pipeline for IMA.

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