What We’ve Learned

Weaving the fabric of our culture

Throughout our nearly 100-year history, RSM has embraced the power of being understood and sought to increase diversity. In 2013, we named our first chief diversity officer and a national culture, diversity and inclusion (CDI) leader.

Throughout our nearly 100-year history, RSM has embraced the power of being understood and sought to increase diversity. In 2013, we named our first chief diversity officer and a national culture, diversity and inclusion (CDI) leader.

During that time conducted internal focus groups to determine where we currently were with our CDI efforts. After synthesizing what we learned, in 2014, we began an intentional program to advance culture, diversity and inclusion under the leadership of Rich Caturano and Tracey Walker. Since then, in addition to standing up 12 employee network groups and educating thousands of people, we have made strides in increasing our representation of women and diverse professionals in the partnership, in executive leadership positions and on our board of directors. That said, we recognize that there is more we must do to continue to weave inclusiveness into the very fabric of RSM.

Each day we make intentional choices to create an environment where inclusion thrives.We take pride in our people’s accomplishments and look toward the future, continuing to identify opportunities and approaches to shift and grow to benefit our clients, colleagues, communities and the profession.

Annual CDI Leadership Summit

The year 2021 marked the eighth year of our annual CDI Leadership Summit, an event designed to help drive progress in all of our CDI strategic priorities—employee engagement and productivity, organizational inclusiveness and inclusive leadership development. This year’s summit theme, “Conscious inclusion: Engaged culture and growth success,” was highly focused on our unwavering commitment to integrating such efforts into the fabric of our firm as we relentlessly work toward our mission of creating a more inclusive workplace. 

Nearly 1,600 RSM people and hundreds of key leaders from the firm’s 87 offices in the U.S. and six offices in Canada attended the two-day event. Given the ongoing uncertainties created by COVID-19, the summit was conducted virtually for the second consecutive year, allowing us to invite all professionals across the United States and Canada for the first time in the summit’s history. 

At the summit, then Managing Partner and CEO Joe Adams, Managing Partner and CEO-elect Brian Becker, National CDI leader Tracey Walker, Chief Operating Officer Bill Gorman, Current Chief Talent Officer Ty Beasley and other leaders shared personal thoughts on the importance of inclusion and the value of a caring workforce—for our colleagues, our communities and our clients.“We have to bring everyone along,” Joe remarked as he opened day one of the summit, later adding that focusing on inclusion is a must-do for companies today. Brian shared this sentiment in a panel discussion: “If we are truly unrivaled, it means that everyone has a chance.” We also hosted leading experts from outside the firm who are making great strides in the CDI space and wereinstrumental in driving the two-day virtual conversation to help advance our skills and understanding as an enterprise.

Interactive sessions, workshops and exercises encouraged participants to generate ideas to improve diversity and inclusion, while panels and facilitated conversations explored multiple perspectives.

Resources for practicing inclusion

Organizations have an opportunity to take action by investing in and engaging as allies and facilitators in matters related to diversity, equity and inclusion. At RSM, we have introduced resources and guidelines for those who want to be a part of driving meaningful change and creating a more equitable future.- Intercultural assessment and Inclusion Advisory are services offered to clients and community which leverages RSM deep expertise in helping enterprises and the individuals within them to deal with difference which is key to sustained inclusive culture.

  • Allyship is an important component of advocating for equity and inclusivity. It is a mindset we encourage in our leaders and our teams. RSM’s Allies in racial understanding and inclusion outlines 10 steps individuals can take to be allies.
  • Courageous conversations form the basis for deeper understanding and empathy. They challenge us to push ourselves beyond what is comfortable to hear a variety of perspectives. Our Courageous Conversation Guide outlines ground rules to create a safe space for candor and honesty.
  • Curated learning playlists help educate our people on issues of differences as assets, understanding race, gender, unconscious bias, managing bias and cultural dexterity.

Training and Professional Development

RSM’s learning and professional development (LPD) team executes national training and professional development programs across the firm and has integrated CDI into our annual, national firmwide training program. LPD has also launched more specific CDI trainings that raise awareness and enhance success by helping everyone understand the importance of cultural dexterity and diversity and to adopt inclusive behaviors. We also support clients with this training as they look for best practices in equity and inclusive behavior.

Our 12 employee network groups (ENGs) also host diversity education and professional development events at the regional and local levels. Our managing partner and CEO  and other senior leaders host and encourage attendance at our learning events.

CDI mentoring program pilot

Our ENGs help build relationships, expand best practices and bridge the inclusion gap between our people. While many of our people and clients are returning to offices, many have elected to continue working remotely following the pandemic, making the need for connectivity and mentorship critically important. That’s why we are continuing a CDI mentorship program piloted in 2020, beginning with our STAR (Stewardship, Teamwork, Advancement and Retention of Women), AACE (African American and Canadian Excellence) and ¡HOLA! (Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Advancement) ENG members. This one-year engagement provides mentees with support, advice and opportunities to serve as mentors. The program gives our people a safe space to connect through respectful, open conversations.

Celebrating Understanding

Every year, RSM is committed to designating time for candid conversations with each other. In May 2021, we held a National Week of Understanding. The goal was to set aside time to reflect, discuss and advance our understanding of race and inclusion. Our people shared personal video messages with their perspectives to foster inclusive interactions.


Are you looking to start a conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion? Whether at work, at home or elsewhere, this checklist highlights some of RSM’s most powerful suggestions and guidelines for navigating tough conversations and building a more inclusive workforce and society.

Be open to understanding, and practice empathy.
Assume positive intent. Always treat one another with respect. If a perspective differs from yours, lean in, ask questions and seek common ground.
Consider your voice important—if not critical—in educating others and building a more inclusive and equitable society.
Speak your truth. Be honest and open about your thoughts and feelings rather than saying what you think others want to hear.
Don’t rush to a quick solution. Uncertainty is OK. True understanding and evolution require ongoing listening, learning, conversation and action.

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