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October 05, 2015 Blog 1 min read

It’s a new recruiting season, which has me thinking a lot about diversity — something that’s very important to our firm.

When we look at the staff in our office, we strive to reflect our communities and the clients we serve. But that isn’t always easy.

Diversity challenges in the accounting profession start early. The pool of diverse candidates seeking a career in public accounting is small and has created a real war for talent. We realized that we needed to take the initiative to overcome this obstacle, so we developed an internship program that’s helping us do just that: we call it Track.

Track is a six-week program designed for multicultural college freshman and sophomores. It offers students a snapshot of life at a public accounting firm by shadowing partners and staff and rotating through various practice groups.

Track introduces students to business and public accounting early in their college careers — when they’re just starting to figure out what they want to do. The program allows us to connect with students and engage them much earlier than in the past.

Jalen Garrett of Plante Moran Financial Advisors (PMFA) is one of Track’s first participants and success stories. Jalen tells us that, through Track, he had the opportunity to interact, seek advice, and learn from the firm’s staff and partners — which gave him a clear picture of what a career at Plante Moran would look like. It was a place where he could picture himself.

After participating in the Track program, completing a traditional internship, and graduating from MSU, Jalen was offered full-time employment with PMFA in 2014.

And Jalen isn’t our only success story. After years of laying the groundwork, Track is making a difference. Five years ago Track started in our Southfield office as a pilot program for two college sophomores. Because of Track, Plante Moran has hired a number of full-time, diverse staff members and interns across Southeast Michigan, Grand Rapids, and Chicago, with expansion plans into Ohio over the next couple of years.

I think it’s important that organizations don’t let the competition for diverse talent discourage them but, instead, look at it as a motivator to become more strategic when recruiting, put more focus around onboarding, and increase their commitment to retention.

What’s your organization doing to promote and retain diverse talent?