In the most recent episode of Fraud Talk, Deidra Jackson, founder and manager of Opus Strategies, discusses the intersection of compliance, ethics and culture when building a diversity, equity and inclusion program within an organization. She shares actionable advice and real-life examples of how to not just check the boxes, but make a real and lasting shift in company culture.
In the excerpt below from the full transcript of episode 108, Jackson illustrates how networking and mentoring can create solid career paths for those belonging to underrepresented groups. Download the full transcript of “Accountability at All Levels” in PDF form or listen to the episode at the bottom of this post.
Deidra: When you enter a new organization, traditionally it has to do with your network. If you are coming from an underrepresented population, where you don’t have the same network as other people have. You haven’t had people to sit down with you on the golf course and say, well hey, this is how you do this, this is how you do that.
You’re just coming in blind, just on your merits and on your hard work. That’s one thing. To succeed and to truly transcend what you are supposed to be doing there and creating a whole new environment, you have to have a support system on the inside to coach you, to mentor you. If you don’t, again, I can’t stress enough, if you don’t come from that background, it is difficult to create. It has to be created.
You have to have people on the inside that can pick you up when you’ve had a bad meeting or you made a mistake. These things, they’re very fluid, so embedding that into the culture from a cultural perspective because we all learn differently, we all have different experiences. It makes all of the difference, all of the difference.
From recruiting to advancement to supplier diversity, all of those nuggets we spoke on earlier, you will start to see the impact of those small touches throughout that whole cycle of recruiting and onboarding and bringing someone in to make sure that those people succeed.
You’re setting them up for something bigger than they could probably ever imagine. When they have that, they in turn, turn around and do that for other people, like I was speaking about my own experience. If I had not had that, I wouldn’t know what that was.
Courtney: I like that we brought it back to mentoring and recruiting. What are — if you have any things that you’ve seen off the top of your head — some unique ways that you see organizations recruiting, whether it’s employees or vendors like you were saying, just some unique strategies that you’ve seen out there.
Deidra: First of all, I can’t stress enough how early people in this field can start that recruiting pipeline, if you will. You can really start as early as, I would say, probably middle school.
Courtney: I heard you say that earlier. I was like, “Oh, they go early.”
Deidra: Yeah yeah, like super early. We’re probably the only country that starts kind of late on this thing. When you look at like Europe, other countries of that nature, they have apprenticeship programs to where they are speaking with you about careers and coaching, just from an aptitude perspective, or things you may like to do, at a very early age. Like 10, 11, 12 years old.
We’re one of the countries that, and it irritates me to no end, but we do well in foreign languages, but most people in other countries, they speak by the time they’re in high school, they’re speaking four or five languages by the time they get out. By the time they become in adult. All of that plays into diversity. All of that plays into appreciating someone else’s culture and understanding it.
I think of that early integration and introduction to careers, particularly in this field when you talk about things that are as specialized as fraud detection, prevention, compliance issues, laws, policies to that nature in the industries that your members work in. I can tell you that there’s always room for improvement in most career fields, but particularly in this career field that you probably won’t learn about until you get maybe to college.
Just think about if you could, when you think about your pipeline 5, 10, 20 years from now, and you’re saying, “Oh, we have a shortage of forensic accountants, or we have a shortage of this.” Just think if kids were introduced to how cool that could be when they are in middle school, in high school, and then they start taking specific classes that will help to train them. To do this in their post-secondary life, it would be amazing.
Those are things that can be done, such as just visiting schools and speaking about what I do. Creating programs with your local, just community support organizations. When you talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, working with organizations such as maybe The Boys and Girls Club, or talking to different churches that have after-school programs.
There are countless opportunities to where you can go and find minority students that are excited about learning and introducing them to other pathways for success. Working with HBCUs is a huge one that is overlooked. HBCUs traditionally are not as well-funded as predominantly white institutions. Not that the kids aren’t as bright and as smart, it’s just that it comes down to funding, exposure and companies that are innovative and progressive that can go and say I want to partner with these universities. I want to create internships and fellowships with these students because they are being overlooked. That is a huge, successful educational system that has been overlooked traditionally, but I think now we are seeing how powerful and how strong they are and where you can certainly start to partner and create some programs to help with your diversity, equity inclusion efforts as it relates to recruiting.
SOURCE: ACFE Insights – A Publication of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners