Women of Wednesday: Jasmine Mickey on the Sexiness of Accounting and Meaningful Diversity

WOMEN OF WEDNESDAY is a weekly micro-interview series featuring women of color in various industries and walks of life, focused on highlighting their pursuits and making it easy for readers to support their endeavors. If you would like to be featured, please submit your answers to the below five questions here.

Jasmine Mickey, 25, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, The Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants: Educator, Empath & Empowerment advocate (Columbus, OH)

1. Tell us about the work you’re doing and why it’s important.

I’m in the process of developing a talent pipeline from high school to successful completion of the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam for students of Color (and hopefully other underserved communities in the future). It’s exciting and challenging all at once. I just started my position at the beginning of July and I’m the first person in this role. On top of that, no other state CPA society has a position like mine, so it’s uncharted territory.

Accounting is an old field. People are retiring left and right so there is a lot of opportunity for entry and advancement. The field is expected to grow by at least 11% in the next 10 years. On top of that, accountants are seeing the value in having a workforce that looks and lives like the communities it serves. So, my work is about clearing the path for the brown kids, the non-binary kids, the kids whose communities have been looted, the disabled kids, the Sikh kids, the gay kids and any other youth that is underserved.

Professional pipeline programs — while not perfect — are one of the ways to ensure that underserved students are successful in education and vocation (which blends into other aspects of life). My vision for this program is to get high school students who even have a slight inclination that they want to be in business into the pipeline so that they can be supported throughout their college and professional careers. That includes leadership programming, family engagement, mentoring, and scholarships. I believe in education and empowerment as crucial components to being successful in life, and creating this program is one way to reinforce that for youth in our communities.

2. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in pursuing the work that’s important to you?

I am an activist educator at heart and switching over to corporate felt (and still feels) a little weird. So on a personal level, imposter syndrome and balancing my values are challenges.

Environmentally, there are lots of challenges. I’ll stick to the biggest 2

1) People don’t think accounting is sexy. I have yet to meet a 14 year old from the hood who wants to be an accountant. Either they don’t think they can go to college and/or accounting means sitting in a cubicle all day crunching numbers. My job is to bridge the education gap AND show them that it’s not just being an office rat. With a CPA you can work for Snapchat and travel the world or you can work for the Cavs and go to games; you can start your own business in your community, and you can afford to help out your family in the process. Or, if cubicles and numbers are your thing, you can do that too. There’s so much opportunity in this field.

2) Accounting, like many other fields, is on this diversity kick right now. From an organizational perspective, diversity is cool and trendy and will help to meet the bottom line. Which…has its pros and cons. The perspective on diversity in this field is very limited. It’s focused on race/ethnicity (which is typically code for just Black folks). So, it’s my job to help the organization meaningfully and innovatively engage with diversity and inclusion in a holistic way.

It’s all a process, but that’s how change works. So, I’m on it

3. What do you need in order to continue your work in the way you envision?

1) Benjamins.

2) For folks to try to empower one another as entrepreneurs. In this hyper-capitalist society, economic advancement can truly help out our communities.

4. Where and how can we support you to make #3 happen?

Remember that 14 year old from the hood I’ve never met? If you know one in Ohio, send them my way: jmickey@ohiocpa.com

Also, if you have any of the aforementioned Benjamins, please consider donating to my work via The Ohio CPA Foundation.

5. What is your favorite quote?

“To search for power within myself means I must be willing to move through being afraid to whatever lies beyond.” — Audre Lorde