By: Nabil Jizi
My name is Nabil Jizi and I am a recent accounting graduate of Mount Olive College. I am an NCACPA student member, Cape Fear Chapter Board member, and member of the Minority Action Committee. A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a presentation on the importance of diversity and inclusion within the CPA profession by AICPA’s Kim Drumgo. The topics covered ranged from a history of AICPA’s diversity initiative to key strategies likely to facilitate the growth of minority representation in the profession.
One particular strategy discussed was the idea of helping minority students navigate the often overwhelming process of becoming a CPA. Kim Drumgo spoke about the importance of mentors for underrepresented students and how the former can make all the difference in increasing representation within the profession. Having spent the past two years of my life overcoming obstacles to gain my current position as a soon to be CPA, I can definitely attest to the importance of fostering such a vital process. I joined NCACPA in June of 2012 and met an amazing mentor at a networking event who guided me through my seemingly thousand mile journey. As setbacks arose, I knew I could consult with someone who had walked the path I now walked and could provide guidance in times of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. As a minority student, this was a major boost to my confidence and determination. I truly believe effective programs and inspiring mentors can make all the difference in increasing diversity and inclusion in the CPA profession.
Another topic discussed during the presentation was the practice of each workplace exhibiting an inclusive environment for diverse employees. I have first-hand experience on just how crucial this is to the future of the initiative. During this past busy season, I worked as a tax intern for McGladrey, LLP. The environment there was one that placed a high value on differences. In fact, they realized the competitive advantage of such a strategy. Input from various people was encouraged, and I felt included from the moment I started. As a student, it can be overwhelming starting a job in tax in the midst of busy season. The work is coming in from all directions, and the student’s knowledge base is just beginning to grow. McGladrey understood this fact and worked diligently with me to bring me up to speed and put me right in the middle of a network of some of the nicest and most helpful people whose shared knowledge proved to be a bountiful resource. I believe an environment of inclusion from day one in a new job will give the aspiring minority CPA a great reason to continue to pursue his or her dream.
Kim Drumgo’s presentation was informative and the strategies discussed for increasing diversity and inclusion were impactful. As someone who began the journey as a minority student and whose end-goal is to become a CPA, I wholeheartedly believe the continuation of these initiatives by firms, AICPA, and NCACPA will increase the representation of people of varying backgrounds within the profession.
To read more about AICPA’s efforts and how diversity can improve the CPA profession, click here.
Nabil works for Barker Jones & Co. in Wilmington, NC. He recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from Mount Olive College and is currently studying to obtain my CPA license. Nabil enjoys coaching his daughter’s soccer team, staying active and involved within the community, and spending time outdoors.