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We Pledged to Make Diversity a Top Priority; Here’s How We’re Doing

January 21, 2022

When our CEO, Matt Armanino, signed the CEO Action Pledge for Diversity and Inclusion in 2019, it was in many ways the follow-through to what we had been striving to accomplish for years. Since then, Armanino has made it a top priority to focus on our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). We’ve stepped up open dialogue about difficult topics, offered more unconscious bias education and training and are engaging more of our firm in DEI efforts.

While we were finding success in many of our initiatives, we wanted to dive even deeper into all three areas of DEI to make sure our firm was truly becoming more diverse, equitable and inclusive. We broadened the conversation and listened to our people, using their feedback to guide our actions.

The numbers indicate that our efforts are working. In the 2022 Firsthand (formerly Vault) Best Accounting Firms for Diversity rankings. Armanino was ranked #10 overall in 2022, up from #16 overall in 2021, marking considerable progress in DEI efforts as judged by those most involved in our firm — our employees.

Here’s how, with the help of our people, we’re advancing our DEI efforts and creating measurable change.

Creating a Broad Team to Focus on Diversity and Inclusion

Our DEI team, IDEAL, is made up of 20 diverse employees who are dedicated to making everyone at Armanino feel welcome. It hosts events all year, recognizing different holidays and backgrounds through roundtable discussions, book clubs and more. Some of the topics we’ve discussed include Day of Understanding and Black History Month. IDEAL, however, does so much more than just recognizing holidays.

The team has helped create a culture where everyone feels like they belong and can be their true authentic selves. As such, IDEAL has played a major role in our diversity rankings, including our rise to #7 in LGBTQ+ diversity (up from #14 in 2021) and to #9 in racial/ethnic diversity (up from #16 in 2021).

What makes IDEAL successful? We’ve learned it resonates with our people because we’re casting a wider net to recognize and celebrate our many differences that make us a stronger team. IDEAL has broadened its scope in a way that fosters more inclusion, and the increased participation in IDEAL events shows how people feel welcome and supported.

Instead of creating narrow affinity groups that focus on supporting smaller groups of people, we’ve aimed to reach more employees through broader groups like IDEAL, so that all our people are aware of issues surrounding DEI for the many types of employees who make up our firm. This inclusive approach to our diversity efforts has helped with education and understanding, thanks to the larger audiences participating in IDEAL events.

In true Armanino fashion, we’ve also made sure our events combine learning experiences and bonding with each other through fun activities that anyone can take part in. For Pride Month, for example, IDEAL hosted a Mid-Day Martini Chat and Trivia event that guided participants through an “Arma-jito,” a fun, rainbow cocktail that we enjoyed during LGBTQ+ history trivia. Cultivating a friendly, open atmosphere through this approach to celebration and education has been key to IDEAL’s success.

Driving Women’s Advancement

The Bridge, formerly known as WAN (Women’s Advancement Network), is another group that has helped us make measurable advances in diversity. The Bridge began its mission in 2016, to make our firm more inclusive, offer more opportunities to women and increase the number of women internally promoted to partners.

The group has certainly taken its mission to heart: Our record-sized 2022 partner class is 54% women. And in the Firsthand rankings on diversity for women, we jumped from #22 in 2021 to #13 in 2022, a major increase that reflects our efforts to help women advance their careers and achieve the highest levels of leadership at Armanino.

Like IDEAL, The Bridge hosts a variety of welcoming, educational events such as our quarterly Java Journeys, a women-led professional development series that focuses not only on the achievements of women in our firm but also the roadblocks they hit and mistakes they made on their way to success. We’re inspired by how women who are now our partners, directors and managers want to share what they’ve learned and how they’ve overcome challenges so that all women at Armanino are encouraged, supported and prepared for their career journeys.

While we’re proud of the progress we’ve made so far in this regard, we want to aim higher and ensure even more women reach our partnership ranks. By engaging women at all levels within the firm, The Bridge can continue helping women reach their career goals rather than opting out of leadership.

Adjusting Our Approach to DEI by Being More Flexible

While we’ve aimed to make IDEAL and The Bridge as broad and inclusive as possible, one thing we’ve been aware of as we continue to grow is that our efforts must always be flexible to meet changing needs. We’ve adapted our approach in some areas, based on employee feedback, so that we improve the sense of belonging for everyone at Armanino.

For example, in 2021 we hosted a National Hispanic Heritage Month panel discussion that shed light on the need for a Latinx employee group. From this, we created our Latinx Advancement Network (LAN) to help Latinx staff excel in their careers, becoming partners, directors and managers.

Julissa Quirk, a tax partner and a member of LAN, said, “It feels more personal to be a part of a firm that makes you feel so included, and that feeling is not typical in other firms.” As one of our newest DEI efforts, LAN holds meetings each quarter and recognizes Latinx coworkers who are making a name for themselves in their roles and on their path to partner. We’re eager to see how this new group helps Latinx employees feel even more supported, welcomed and understood.

Expanding Our Efforts

As we continue our rapid growth, our firm will become more diverse and we will keep working to build a culture that unleashes the power of diversity and creates an environment in which every employee feels respected, valued for their uniqueness and experiences, connected to their colleagues and the firm, confident to speak up and comfortable to be themselves. All are welcome at Armanino, and we’re more excited than ever to expand, adjust and refine our DEI efforts for the sake of all our teammates.

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