Exploring the topic of representation in the finance and accounting sectors, particularly within the nonprofit industry, with LaMichelle Hecht, CPA, and CEO of Overhead Solutions Group. LaMichelle shares her insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by Black women in accounting, highlighting the need for increased diversity and inclusion. From addressing systemic barriers to entry to advocating for greater support for Black-owned businesses and professionals, LaMichelle’s expertise offers up actionable strategies for any organization to foster inclusivity and drive positive change.

LaMichelle, who established her practice in late 2020, began by addressing the stark reality that less than 2% of all CPAs are Black, with an even smaller percentage owning CPA firms. LaMichelle expressed optimism about the future, citing initiatives like the National Association of Black Accountants’ (NABA) efforts to introduce accounting to high school students through programs like ACAP. She emphasized the importance of increasing awareness among young people about the viability and potential of accounting careers.

The discussion touches on systematic barriers to entry, notably the financial burden of obtaining the necessary qualifications, such as the 150 credit hours required for CPA licensure. LaMichelle highlighted the impact of student loan debt, which disproportionately affects individuals from underprivileged backgrounds, hindering their pursuit of accounting careers.

Focusing on the unique role of accounting in the nonprofit sector and addressing the need for greater diversity in leadership roles, LaMichelle outlined strategies for nonprofits to engage with and support Black-owned businesses and professionals.

Host Julia Patrick mentions mentorship and community support, and LaMichelle describes the value of networking platforms like social media groups and professional organizations such as Chicago Financial Women and BNI. She shares her experiences volunteering and serving on nonprofit boards, emphasizing the importance of giving back to the community and mentoring future generations of professionals. Her dedication to driving positive change in the sector serves as an inspiration for all those striving for greater representation and inclusivity in finance and accounting.