The topic of Diversity in Accounting is not new, yet the accounting profession is still not where it should be in terms of diversity goals. Over the past few years, I have heard about a pipeline problem: young talent doesn’t find accounting to be an attractive career option, which is such a shame. I love accounting, and my accounting background and experiences have opened up so many opportunities and helped me build my entrepreneurial career. I say that we, as accountants, need to break this stereotype, change our narrative and branding, and most importantly, share our stories so people know exactly what we do and the impact of our work. Dr. Kecia is a great example of an industry leader in this field, and I’m so excited to share our talk with you today!
1. BRANDING ACCOUNTING THROUGH VALUE ADD
Because she’s from a family of educators, Dr. Kecia understands the importance of teaching values to others, starting at a young age. She talks about how we can improve diversity in the accounting field by demonstrating the immense value that accounting brings to businesses, personal finance, and career fulfillment. Dr. Kecia envisions a world where 1st and 2nd graders want to grow up to be accountants just like they want to be doctors and lawyers, and she recognizes the pipeline can start at any age. Dr. Kecia expands on the branding that accounting is learning a new language - the language of business - and believes honing in on this branding can help attract diverse, top talent at all ages. She also understands that accountants are their own best advocates, and each accountant carries an opportunity to inspire others to follow in their footsteps too.
2. REMOVE THE INVISIBILITY CLOAK
Dr. Kecia expands on the difficulty of feeling seen in the workplace, particularly for her during the Ph.D. program application process. Dr. Kecia understood she was well-equipped to succeed; however, feeling seen and appreciated at work and in the program didn’t come as naturally. Dr. Kecia advocates for employers and admissions committees to view applicants who are eager to learn with excitement, welcome their experiences, and ensure they are treated as unique and capable individuals with personal and professional goals. These diverse and talented students and young professionals are eager to learn, she explains and will shine once they feel seen and guided.
3. MOVING THE NEEDLE ON DIVERSITY IS ALWAYS AN OPTION
Dr. Kecia understands that there is no need for a formal process or specified assignment; one can always move the needle on diversity efforts forward, whether in the workplace, with family and friends, or in one’s community. Wherever you are, Kecia advocates for taking charge in acting on your ability to advocate for the success of diverse accountants. Not only will your accounting job become a role model which inspires the next generation to follow their passions, but you can also create space for others while paving the road for yourself. The journey towards a diverse and inclusive accounting industry is continuous, and we all play a part in bringing it about!
🎧 To learn more about diversity in the accounting profession, Dr. Kecia’s incredible journey throughout the accounting world - including getting her PhD! - and more mentorship advice from Cece Leung, listen to the Dear Accountant podcast here.
🎙 The “Dear Accountant” podcast is a uniquely insightful and entertaining podcast for aspiring young business professionals. Each episode is packed with actionable advice to help young finance professionals get ready for whatever challenge they may face next. Aside from all of the many cool things in accounting (technical topics and trends), we bring in industry experts and influential leaders to share their journey, insights, and perspectives. We will also cover topics that were not taught in school - life essential skills such as personal finance, emotional intelligence, mentorship, networking, body language, and human behaviours, and so much more!
💬 About our guest, Kecia Williams Smith: Kecia is a CPA, and currently serves as the Director of the Master of Accountancy Program in the Department of Accounting and Finance at North Carolina A&T State University. She spent her early careers at one of the big 4 for almost a decade, then, she pivoted to join the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) where she created and led the Inspections Training Office that served over 400 inspection personnel. Yes, if you remember, the PCAOB is a dedicated regulatory agency that was created by the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 to audit the auditors. Then, after spending almost another decade there, she went back to school to get her PhD - and post-PhD, she taught at Virginia Tech for a few years, and eventually returned to her alma mater in academia, bringing all her experiences together to the classroom.
📖 Get amazing advice from the 20 mentors in “Dear Accountant” Book: The book offers a unique immersion into the lives and careers of 20 inspiring leaders in finance from different disciplines - their backstories, pivotal moments, career trajectories, and hiccups along the way.
🎧 Listen to Cece’s interviews about her passion and mission in writing this book and paying it forward to help young professionals to find meaning and fulfillment in their life and career: