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Accounting with pride

By Alessandro Ghio, Nicholas McGuigan, and Lisa Powell, Monash University

The month of June is when the LGBTQI community and allies come together, all around the world, to celebrate gay pride and diversity. COVID-19 has meant that over 300 pride festivals have been canceled, but Interpride and the European Pride Organisers Association, the world’s two largest international pride networks, will deliver a digital alternative  Global Pride 2020  lived streamed to your device on 27 June. 

To build equity in the accounting profession, a team of researchers at Monash University in Australia created Queering AccountingDesigning for Diversity and Inclusion in Professional Services Firms. This initiative promotes and advocates for the creative, innovative leadership of accounting students, graduates, academics and industry members that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex (LGBTQI) 

Queering Accounting positively influences environments to overcome the well-documented heteronormativity in accountingand highlight the economic and social benefits of diversity within the accounting profession. Accounting is a discipline plagued by traditional stereotypes and conservatism. It is also a profession under considerable disruption 

A culture of diversity, creativity, innovation, and leadership is necessary to develop the enterprising capabilities required for relevance in today’s ever-changing world.  

Since 2017, Queering Accounting has created physical and online spaces that bring together the LGBTQI community and allies to raise visibility, in significant and playful ways, across the Australasian accounting sector. Achievements include educational workshops and activities, research, industry events and panel discussions with accounting professionals, artistic endeavours and provocations, an online and social media presence, social engagements and community outreach. 

There is a lot that we can learn from the work of Queering Accounting and we have outlined the key take-a-ways below: 

Create space for the LGBTQI community and allies  

Diversity and inclusion in professional accounting firms cannot be limited to an assimilation of LGBTQI community members within traditional norms. True work+life diversity will require accounting organisations to connect to new forms of cultural identification, and expand organisational practices and norms to embrace diversity, creativity, leadership, and innovation in accounting. 

This can only be achieved through safe, open dialogue that aims to ‘meet in the middle’ to arrive at a shared common understanding. Work with professional accounting bodies, firms and practitioners to provide professional development sessions, workshops, presentations, and panel events that bring the LGBTQI accounting community together.  

Engage the accounting community in unique and playful ways using film documentation, drag performance, written manifesto, photographic images, Instagram, artist-in-residence program, websites and professional development events. 

Push forward the conversation 

Embracing diversity is more than just celebrating pride. Here are ways to make strides towards equality:  

  • Carry with you an open mind  having an open mind to learn new perspectives is always the first step towards shared understanding. 

  • Learn about multiple perspectives and educate yourself on terminology, so you can engage in conversation confidently.  

  • Call out unacceptable behavior and negative or abusive language when you hear it. 

  • Get involved and support your local pride network.  

  • Organise events, panel discussions or other professional development that aim to raise awareness and encourage diversity.  

  • Engage in meaningful dialogue when you can. Actively listen to your LGBTQ colleagues, hold space in conversations and engage with respect 

  • Show your colleagues you support them  don a rainbow lanyard or pin or introduce yourself with pronouns.  

Connect on LinkedIn with the Queering Accounting teamAlessandroNick and LisaFollow us on Instagram#queeringaccounting  

About the authors: 

Alessandro Ghio, PhDResearcher and Lecturer in AccountingMonash University. His research focuses on issues surrounding financial reporting quality, corporate social media communication, and diversity in business organisations. Alessandro facilitates diversity in business workshops for organisations and teaches courses on sustainable accounting. 

Nicholas McGuigan, CA, CPA, PhDDirector of Equity, Diversity and Social Inclusion, Monash Business School. Nick is an award-winning educator who works as an innovator, instigator and disruptor to create future-oriented business education programs that focus on innovation, creativity and design thinking. 

Lisa Powell, CPA, PhDLecturer in Accounting, Monash Business School. Lisa advocates for an interdisciplinary approach to accounting through the incorporation of humanities and social science aspects. Lisa has a passion for equity and diversity, and social and environmental justice in accounting.