by Rene Villaroman/AJPress
LOS ANGELES – Ernst & Young, one of the top four accounting firms in America, held a forum, Leading a New Conversation on Inclusiveness, at its downtown office last Thursday, that addressed the subject of diversity and inclusiveness. The forum was attended by more than 200 accounting and finance professionals.
“You have to work at diversity and work even harder at inclusiveness,” declared Raymond Ybarra of Shimasaki Consulting Group, Inc., one of three speakers. “You can have many employees with lots of different nationalities, different educations, from different parts of the world, but the key thing is whoever that body of knowledge that you are tapping into, you need to break it down, what are you going to contribute? You have got to open the doors fi rst, allow them in, and make them feel like they are a part of this,” Ybarra said.
“I think a lot of companies get caught up with statistics, like, ‘we have a good amount of women, good amount of disabled people.’ What is important is to listen to them and to empower them and to include them in the decision-making process,” said Bridget Trumpet, Director of Internal Audit of Rentech. “If you are in business you have to be inclusive because the world is getting smaller due to globalization.”
Raymond Ealy, vice president of business development of Quantummethod, who had worked with Bank of America for many years, said, “What I learned eventually was that even though there were cultural differences among the many different nationalities, what I found were certain idiosyncrasies, but at the end of the day, the common denominator is, they can’t balance their checkbooks.” He said, “What he learned about the different cultures was that people did business the same way, and they have the same issues; you just have to be comfortable in those different environments.”
“Everyone is the same,” Ealy said. “But for some reasons, people have this vision that one group is better, more affl uent than the others; but when you get down on the ground and talk to people, or someone bounced a check to DWP, everybody reacts the same way.”
“What we have to ask is, are they successful from an inclusiveness point of view?” contends Ybarra. “Are they actually working with people of all types, taking the barriers off, taking their blinders off?”
Are they looking at people on the same basis of what they can bring to the table.” Ybarra said that in all the companies he had worked for — including Boeing and Hewlett-Packard — “they didn’t have any blinders. They were open. It made them smart; made them have a little of the ability to change rapidly.”
The business environment is not going to be stagnant, according to Ybarra. “There are obstacles out there, everywhere. Bringing people in, no matter what they do, which level of comfort they are in. Flip open the doors wide open, your ears open, your eyes open and you listen. You can bring them in; you don’t have to have your boss bring them in. Companies hire you because they think that you can help them make more money,” Ybarra suggested.
Ealy believes that inclusiveness comes more naturally to the minorities. “There is more willingness to embrace inclusiveness because the thought process is that you get to look behind you with great courtesy; that there are more opportunities now that you didn’t know about.”
At Hewlett-Packard, where he was a consultant for 11 years, Ybarra said that everyone was expected to be equals. “It was pretty much a fl at organization. They didn’t have quotas on whom to hire, they just want the best and the brightest; they didn’t care what color you are, or if you are on a wheelchair. The ability to cut through the peripherals is so important today.”
Ernst & Young, one of the top four accounting companies in the US, said in a statement that it “fosters a work environment that is open and inclusive of all, regardless of gender, race, nationality and sexual orientation.” More than 50 per cent of those who attended were members of the International Society of Young Filipino Accountants (ISYFA). The forum was moderated by E & Y recruiters Tina McCoy and Katherine Markgraf.