CHICAGO — Grant Thornton LLP, a leading audit, tax and advisory firm, today released its second annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Report, which highlights the firm’s strides in diversity representation and promotion rates, as well as expanded DE&I training programs and external partnerships.
“This year’s DE&I report shows that Grant Thornton is embracing transparency and turning intentions into actions,” says Grant Thornton CEO Brad Preber. “We know there is still room for enhancement, but I am inspired by our progress and believe we are on the right path, the path beyond what is expected in business. That is why we’re continuing to focus on DE&I at all levels of our firm and investing in programs to ensure all people have an opportunity to make their voices heard.”
Grant Thornton’s fiscal year 2021 numbers related to race and ethnicity showed notable improvements compared to fiscal year 2020 representation. Black/African American or Hispanic/Latinx hiring at the associate and senior associate levels — where most of Grant Thornton’s hiring occurs — had a 33% year-over-year growth rate. The promotion rate among Black/African American employees also increased from 8% to 12%. Female hiring and promotion also showed improvements. Forty-three percent of newly hired managing directors were women — a 30% year-over-year growth rate — and 44% of newly hired partners or principals were women. And the 2021 partner and principal promotion class had the highest percentage of women in the firm’s history.
Grant Thornton also worked to achieve culture shifts. “Making real progress on DE&I is about more than just implementing policies and programs,” says Rashada Whitehead, national managing director for culture, immersion and inclusion at Grant Thornton. “It requires everyone in an organization to re-think how they relate to and uplift the diversity of colleagues around them every day.”
To that end, the firm is focused on lived experiences and integrating DE&I into its culture. “To advance representation at every level, progress and inclusion must be felt and championed in how we interact with each other, how we think about assignments and promotions, and who we develop for long, productive careers at Grant Thornton,” says Whitehead.
To promote respect and responsibility among all Grant Thornton colleagues, the firm expanded its DE&I education programs. By the end of the fiscal year, 98% of partners, principals and managing directors and 90% of employees participated in an unconscious bias workshop. Additionally, Grant Thornton held workshops on psychological safety and microaggressions.
Grant Thornton also created DE&I and inclusive leadership learning badges – credentials earned after completing a program combining self-study courses with on-the-job experiences and learning activities. All partners and principals at the firm are required to complete one of the two DE&I-focused badges.
The firm also rolled out a culture immersion initiative as part of its new hire and existing employees’ experience that consists of main sessions and small-group discussions and embeds DE&I as a core firm tenet, with one module focuses specifically on belonging and inclusion.
Partnering for success
Grant Thornton’s DE&I report also highlights several external partnerships that help the firm to lift diverse voices and provide equitable opportunities for all, including:
- Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF): Over a three-year period, the Grant Thornton Foundation is donating $300,000 to TMCF, solidifying the firm’s commitment to support racial and social justice for more than 500,000 African-American students from more than 47 qualifying schools. Also, TMCF, American Express and Grant Thornton’s virtual Train the Trainer Career Readiness program launched in November 2021 to build intentional partnerships with seven HBCUs and foster professional preparation skills and resources at each institution.
- HBCU Partnership Challenge: Grant Thornton has joined a program created by Congresswoman Alma S. Adams to strengthen public-private investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
- NextGen Cyber Talent: Grant Thornton is joining the fight against one of the greatest barriers to equity — access ― by teaming up with a nonprofit education provider that creates access to cybersecurity coursework and information for underserved and underprivileged college students.
- Chris Gardner Foundation: Grant Thornton is partnering with a foundation supporting high schools across the country and speaking with students about careers in the accounting industry.
- Hiring Our Heroes: Grant Thornton is partnering with the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation and participating in a program that offers workforce development fellowships to people with connections to the U.S. military.
- Disability:IN: Grant Thornton is collaborating with the leading nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion across the globe. In addition to signing the “Are You IN?” Disability Inclusion Pledge, Grant Thornton is reviewing office accessibility to go beyond disability compliance and ensure offices are easy to navigate and accessible for everyone.
Creating a stronger future
Grant Thornton’s DE&I Report also identifies five key DE&I goals for the firm to reach by its 100th anniversary at the end of fiscal year 2025, including:
- 30% of new hires will be Black and African American or Hispanic and Latinx (also recognizing opportunities for increased hiring for Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans).
- 35% of Grant Thornton’s National Leadership Team and market-focused leaders will be women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, individuals with disabilities, veterans or military spouses. Further, 40% of the firm’s partners, principals and managing directors will meet these same criteria.
- 50% of training opportunities for the most valuable professional skills will include women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, individuals with disabilities, veterans or military spouses.
- Representation of veterans, military spouses and individuals with disabilities across the firm will increase by 50%.
“We take pride in looking back on our cultural progress, but we are looking ahead to developing an even stronger community of belonging going forward,” concludes Preber.
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