DEI and Fraud Examination: What’s the Why for DEI?

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is a term that is often tossed around within companies and organizations, but what does it mean? The formal definition of DEI is “a conceptual framework that promotes the fair treatment and full participation of all people, especially in the workplace, including populations who have historically been underrepresented or subject to discrimination because of their background, identity, disability, etc.” It’s often used to describe policies and programs put in place to highlight and recognize the representation and participation of different groups of individuals.

Why Does DEI Matter in Fraud Examination?

Anti-fraud professionals and fraudsters come from many diverse backgrounds and  experiences. As a result, we each have an individual lens through which to view the world. This lens shapes our experiences and exposure and deeply impacts on the work we do. Our job as people working in the global anti-fraud environment is to expand our lens so that our own biases do not detract from our work.

According to Dima Ghawi, speaking at the 33rd Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference, there are over 180 different implicit biases. Biases are developed by upbringing and exposure, and these divide us and create fear of the “other.” Having biases is all part of being people, and they aren’t a bad thing. They simply require you to slow down and engage your brain — ask why and truly think about the answer.

The three most common biases are affinity bias, confirmation bias and guilt by association. Again, having these biases is not a bad thing; it’s intrinsic in the human experience. However, your job requires you to slow down your thoughts and look beyond immediate reaction in order to succeed, which helps broaden your lens and be a better agent of change in the anti-fraud profession.

Fraud is a global problem, and fighting it requires a global effort. DEI has a different meaning depending on where you are and where your investigation leads, so it’s important to keep an open mind when entering an investigation and  broaden your lens to achieve maximum potential throughout your work. Implementing DEI initiatives in the workplace increases creativity, attracts talent and helps the bottom line by ensuring that everyone feels safe, supported and that they belong. Recognizing the need for DEI in the anti-fraud field ensures you are conducting unbiased investigations, that the actual wrong doers are facing consequences and that everyone is entitled to the same level of safety in the fight against fraud.

DEI at the ACFE

Here at the ACFE, we incorporate DEI values into our organization in a variety of ways. We have a committed, diverse team of people, made up of staff across the organization, who meet bimonthly to discuss initiatives the ACFE can take on to promote DEI in our own organization and within our membership.

Our organization prides itself on more than 90,000 individual members across the globe, and our goal is to make sure every one of them feels represented within our organization and the anti-fraud community. From hosting podcasts with veterans and webinars with groups such as the National Association of Black Compliance & Risk Management Professionals, Inc. (NABCRMP) to honoring Juneteenth at our annual Global Fraud Conference in 2022, highlighting different initiatives on our blog and putting on a Women’s Summit during International Women’s Month, the ACFE is committed to DEI. We believe in everyone having a seat at the table, and we are always looking for ways to build a bigger table to meet that goal.

To honor such a commitment, we know we must regularly evaluate where we succeed and where we need to do better. We want to hear from you: What would you like to see from the ACFE regarding DEI, whether that be activities or events, initiatives to recognize or simply where we need improvement? Our DEI scope is on the rise, and you deserve a chance to have your voice heard.

SOURCE: ACFE Insights – A Publication of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners