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dog on welcome mat | accountingweb | Setting Diverse Candidates Up for Success in Accounting Firms

Give diverse candidates a warm welcome


In the second of a series on attracting, onboarding and retaining diverse talent, Kayleigh Graham explores how accounting firms can set diverse candidates up for success right from day one.

21st Aug 2023
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As the accounting industry continues to evolve, it’s crucial that firms recognise the immense value that diversity and inclusion bring to the table. Welcoming diverse talent into your accounting firm not only enhances creativity and innovation but also brings fresh perspectives that can drive business growth. That said, to ensure the success of these diverse candidates from day one, it’s essential to implement an onboarding process that addresses their needs.

Strong start

Think about your first day in your role. Were you worried about wearing the wrong thing? Showing up too early? Unsure what time you would finish? What time would you be having lunch? These are all things we worry about and if we are able to eliminate those concerns and fears for our own new team members, we absolutely should.

Providing clear guidance before a diverse candidate’s first day is essential. One thing I was taught is to create a comprehensive document outlining important details like those listed below and sharing this with your new team member the week before they join.

  • Dress code: Clear guidelines on appropriate attire for the office, whether it’s business formal or business casual, can help new hires feel confident and comfortable from the start. Even if they are working remotely this can be helpful.
  • Arrival time: Specify the expected arrival time, allowing candidates to plan their commute and ensure they start the day on the right foot. If they are joining remotely, provide the link to the relevant online meetings and let them know who will be joining them. 
  • Agenda for the day: Provide a detailed agenda for their first day, including introductions to key team members, an overview of the company’s values and mission, and an interactive orientation to familiarise them with company culture.

By providing this information in advance, you help people feel prepared, welcomed and ready to embark on a successful journey with your firm.

Roadmap for growth

On day one, introduce your new team member to their 90-day plan that outlines what they can expect for the next three months. This plan creates clear expectations and removes any ambiguity for them as well as the rest of the team.

An example may look like the following.

  • First 30 days: Emphasise learning and absorption. Encourage them to ask questions, participate in training sessions and immerse themselves in the company’s processes and procedures.
  • Next 60 days: Shift the focus to reflection and improvement. Encourage them to share their observations, suggest enhancements and take ownership of any improvements that are agreed on.
  • Last 30 days: This is the period when candidates begin to deliver on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Introduce the specific KPIs for their role on day one to give them a clear understanding of what’s expected.

The 90-day plan not only empowers diverse candidates but also aligns them with the firm’s goals and allows them to progress at a manageable pace. The key here is to make this specific to them and their role. What do you really want them to achieve in that time and what do you expect to see from them in terms of inputs and outputs. 

Value and purpose

One common concern among diverse candidates is the feeling of being there just to tick a diversity box. Address this concern proactively by emphasising the unique value and contributions that each individual brings to the team. Highlight the importance of diverse perspectives in problem-solving, decision-making and fostering innovation.

Additionally, ensure that existing team members understand the value of diversity and the positive impact it has on the firm’s success. This shared understanding can foster a more inclusive and supportive work environment for everyone, which will help you to retain diverse talent

By implementing these three strategies, accounting firms can set diverse candidates up for success right from day one. A strong start, a well-defined roadmap, and a clear sense of purpose can create a positive and inclusive environment where diverse talent thrives, driving the firm’s growth and success in the long run.

Remember, it’s not just about ticking boxes or meeting quotas, it’s about fostering a culture that embraces diversity and reaps the rewards of varied perspectives and experiences.

In this series on embracing inclusion, Kayleigh Graham explores attracting, onboarding and retaining diverse talent.