Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) have become pivotal pillars in today’s corporate landscape, driving organizations to foster a more inclusive work environment. To better understand who our members are, how they feel their places of work demonstrate DE&I practices and what practices and career obstacles they may face, CalCPA conducted Stand Up and Be Counted: CalCPA DE&I Baseline Membership Survey 2022.
The results of the anonymous survey include a snapshot of members, overall comfort with workplace environments, specific practices and feedback on how CalCPA can better serve its members.
“We cannot build a strong and united community without acknowledging the unique perspectives and backgrounds of our members,” said David Neighbors, CPA, chair of the CalCPA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission and Private Client Services Partner at BDO USA, LLP.
“This survey serves as a compass, guiding us toward a more equitable and connected future. By understanding the challenges our members face, we can actively work toward breaking down barriers and building bridges of understanding.”
Overall survey results reveal a substantial share of CalCPA members support DE&I efforts in their workplaces, both in terms of hiring practices and healthy workplace policies. Many companies and firms are reported to be applying good DE&I practices and there is evidence such practices are seen to be good for business. Many members of protected class communities also feel that where they work is safe and comfortable for them.
That said, as many as one in five employees have recently left a firm or company, many of whom encountered prejudicial behaviors.
Characteristics of CalCPA Members
Public accounting is the focus of nearly 60 percent of members, an additional 17 percent serve in business and industry roles and the remaining percentage is scattered across government, education, nonprofit and consulting functions, or are retired or students. As for career stage, 46 percent call themselves decision makers, 23 percent are mid-career professionals and 9 percent are emerging professionals.
CalCPA members overwhelmingly identify in traditional binary terms, with nearly equal proportions assigning themselves to male and female identities. “No binary” identification is just below 1 percent, and one in 13 declined to identify in some way. Small percentages say they are members of the LGBTQIA community (4 percent) or in a protected class (4 percent).
The survey also shows membership skews toward older brackets, as more than 50 percent are 55 or older. Approximately 18 percent of the membership is 45-55; 15 percent is 35-44; and only 14 percent of members are younger than 35 years.
DE&I in the Workplace and CalCPA
Most survey respondents expressed positive views of their firm or company, or with CalCPA, with respect to DE&I, networking and mentoring opportunities.
95 percent are comfortable and welcomed at CalCPA events.
94 percent say that having an inclusive culture is important for CalCPA.
94 percent say that their own firm or company is inclusive, and 92 percent say their firm or company is equitable.
74 percent say that they have not received unfair prejudice or treatment.
60 percent would like to have a mentor.
While a substantial share of CalCPA members support DE&I efforts in their workplaces and many companies and firms are reported to be applying good DE&I practices, as many as one in five employees have recently left a firm or company, many of whom encountered prejudicial behaviors.
When asked if they experienced any DE&I obstacles in the workplace, 69 percent of the respondent said they have and the most often raised obstacles were being yelled at or demeaned by a manager or supervisor (15 percent), lack of recognition (13 percent) and failure to be promoted (12 percent).
CalCPA members were invited to share examples of experiences where their career was enhanced by exposure to diverse people or places. One in five opted to do so and of this group:
32 percent made comments about developing new or wider perspectives or improving sales and business growth with an enhanced DE&I posture.
11 percent contributed thoughts about their own career success or advancement.
15 percent thought the question non-applicable to them or said their career was not so enhanced.
4 percent referenced a negative experience of their own.
When it comes to leadership encouraging diversity in their firms or companies, survey respondents reported that leadership supported DE&I improvements to at least some degree.
Where specifics were provided members pointed to having teams, consultants or task forces in place, or having written hiring practices, guidelines and/or policies.
Career development plays a large role when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent, and when asked, “Do you feel your firm/company offers a career development path for advancement?”:
70 percent said that their firm/company offers a career development path.
20 percent reported no career development path where they work.
7 percent said the matter was not applicable due to sole proprietorship or retirement circumstances.
How CalCPA Can Support Members and Their DE&I Efforts
In a concluding question, survey respondents were asked how they would like to see CalCPA support them and DE&I efforts. Nearly 30 percent offered a response. Of those:
Nearly 24 percent disputed the survey, a need for DE&I activities, etc.
22 percent urged CalCPA to continue existing communication, awareness, etc.
21 percent offered no comment, said they have no advice or urged CalCPA to keep up its work.
11 percent want more direct action, lobbying, funding, etc.
8 percent asked for more training, continuing education or mentoring.
7 percent suggested career/professional support and networking opportunities.
Be sure to visit calcpa.org/diversity and take advantage of the available news, resources and information regarding diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as find out how you can get involved in these efforts. Also, look for our diversity-focused courses at https://store.calcpa.org and search “diversity.”