Many may not know the name John Cromwell Jr., but what people should know is he was a trailblazer.
In 1921, John Cromwell Jr. became the first Black CPA. He taught himself accounting and it took almost 15 years for him to become a CPA as most states made work experience a requirement. In John’s case, work experience was nearly impossible as no one would hire a Black man. Eventually, he was able to become a CPA in New Hampshire.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of John Cromwell Jr. breaking down barriers to become the first Black CPA. At DHG, we acknowledge the progress cannot stop here. We are committed to creating an inclusive and equal environment where all feel a sense of belonging at DHG.
I am proud of the way our firm came together last year to listen, learn and take action but we must continue to move forward. Black History Month gives us the opportunity to celebrate and continue our progress in being a truly inclusive firm. We are empowering our people to bridge the gap from knowing to understanding the challenges that the Black community faces and how we can all be a part of the solution.
Here are some of the ways we are taking action and creating change:
- DHG Futures Program: DHG Futures is a learning and development program for undergraduate students from underrepresented groups. This program is designed to provide valuable skills and opportunities to catapult their career from the very beginning. The Futures program supports DHG’s journey to becoming the Firm of the Future by helping build a diverse and inclusive team, while also providing learning and development opportunities for both student participants and DHG team members. For students interested in the Futures Program, visit the Life at DHG blog to learn more.
- Common Interest Groups (CIGs): Growing the firm’s CIGs to provide support and awareness for additional groups and increased firmwide programming. The African American Network created a robust agenda to celebrate Black History Month – with a mix of educational and celebratory programming, which I think is very important. It is impossible to celebrate if you do not know and understand the perspectives of others.
- 21 Day Challenge: It takes 21 days to create a habit and our goal is to encourage every team member to create better social justice awareness by the end of February. In conjunction with our Black History Month celebrations, we launched a 21 Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge to drive understanding and awareness with issues of race, power, privilege and leadership. Each day, those who joined the challenge receive resources and designated tasks. All daily challenges build on each other and deliver the full curriculum of the overall challenge. At the end of the month, we are hosting a firmwide conversation to share feedback, questions and ways we can continue to build upon what we learned during the challenge.
- Partnerships: We are looking beyond DHG to make an impact in our communities through valued partnerships. As we strive to encourage and retain diversity in the industry, we established an DHG LIFT Scholarship with the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) to support Black students. Less than nine percent of all accountants are Black and we understand we need to take action to see change. Through the LIFT scholarship, we hope to help close the gap and provide opportunity for aspiring Black accountants to advance their careers.
- Leadership Accountability: We have added a level of accountability with all firm leaders to champion the firm’s Inclusion & Diversity efforts, such as involvement with a Common Interest Group, mentoring underrepresented students and professionally getting involved with our Community focused initiatives.
As we celebrate Black History Month and beyond, together we will fulfill our CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge and act on advancing a more inclusive workplace.