Preparing Leaders for a Diverse Workforce

Kenneth Bouyer, director of inclusiveness recruiting with EY Americas, offers advice to university leaders on how to ensure their diversity and inclusion initiatives are most effective for today's workplace needs.


Kenneth Bouyer: [0:16] When you think about minorities in the accounting profession, or professional services, as I like to call it, there's still a challenge with folks staying.

[0:22] The good news from a recruiting or campus recruiting standpoint, the profession is doing a much better job, attracting and recruiting talented minorities.

[0:31] The issue is around retention. How do we get these talented minorities to stay, to make partner? It's not an easy trail. It's challenging on a number of fronts. They also are getting pulled into industry.

[0:44] We're not the only group, professional services, that has a focus on diversity and inclusion. When you think about some of the major corporations, or organizations, they also do. They know that we are unfortunately, or fortunately, a wealth of talent.

[0:58] They'll spend a few years with us. They'll get a major Fortune 100, calling the firm, or calling into them, and saying, "Hey, we have an opportunity for you."

[1:06] We have a lot of competing competition, if you will, to retain and keep these talented minority professionals to make partner. That's some of the challenges. That's what we're working on so hard.

[1:16] What I would say to university leaders to get focused on diversity and inclusion is to, "Take a look at your mission. Take a look at your mission statement."

[1:25] Many universities' mission statement will say something like, "We want to build world class leaders, or future leaders." How do you do that if you're not focusing on the full breadth and depth of diversity?

[1:38] Your students are going to enter a world that's incredibly diverse. If you work at a firm like EY, you're going to work on multinational clients.

[1:45] Your student could start with our firm today, and be asked to take an assignment in China. My question to you, "Are you preparing your student today for that opportunity in China with our firm tomorrow?"

[1:57] If nothing else, focus on it, and living your mission. That's developing future business leaders. D&I is absolutely an element of that.

[2:07] As it relates to faculty and the business school, my advice or comment to the dean, or the provost, or the president would be to take a look at your current mix of faculty.

[2:20] Really challenge, "Are you reflective of the students that are in the business school, or are you reflective of the broader society?" because the reality is your student will come to a firm like EY and work in a very diverse environment.

[2:32] The question is, "Are they going to be prepared?" All of your students, are they going to be prepared to work in that diverse environment?

[2:39] Seeing faculty members who are diverse, who can or may be a mentor to them at some point, will behoove you to get your students ready to be world class business leaders.

[2:49] If you think about your school's focus on diversity and inclusion, I would ask yourself, on your website, in your materials, "Do you speak and talk about the importance of D&I to your respective school?"

[3:00] If the answer is yes, my second question would be, "How are you investing in that, or is it just words on a website, or words on a page? How are you truly investing to operationalize that focus on D&I?"

[3:15] For every institution, it's probably different. Ask yourself, "What are you doing today?" If I'd come to school and say, "Give me the top three things you're doing?" What investments do you have? What would you tell me?

[3:26] I'd ask you to think about that. I suspect that many of you do have dean's advisory councils or alumni associations. If you need assistance, that's a great group to reach out to and ask for help.

[3:37] I'm on the Board of Trustees at my alma mater. I sit on a number of university dean's advisory councils. If they ask me for questions or ask for help, I am there to give it, especially around diversity and inclusion. It's something I'm incredibly passionate about.

[3:51] Who on your board, who on your Board of Trustees, who's passionate about D&I? Do you know that? I'd say, start there.

[3:57] Create some advocates. They will help you push that agenda, probably get you funding, or help you elevate that conversation in a way that perhaps you or your faculty can't do.

[4:08] Tap and come to your alumni and folks who are serving your councils, a great resource of help in a world of D&I. As I lead all of our D&I talent for the firm for EY, the question is, "Do I see this in another almost 30 years, or 30 years from now, this role?" It's a great question.

[4:25] The easy answer is, "I would hope not." I'd love to work myself out of a job where, frankly, everything was equitable, if you will. People had an element of focus on various parts of the profession. People felt very comfortable in our profession and entering our profession.

[4:39] I'm going to be optimistic because I am generally an optimistic person. I'd like to think in 30 years, "No, a position like this won't exist."

[4:46] Undoubtedly, diversity's very broadly defined. There are going to be some folks who are part of that diversity definition that may need some assistance, or differential investments.

[4:58] We'll see how this plays out. I'm hopeful and optimistic.

Filmed February 2019 at AACSB's Deans Conference in Vancouver, Canada.