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Professional Skills, DE&I, and AI: Top Learning & Development Trends

December 6th, 2023

In a world that thrives on constant innovation, embracing the latest trends in learning and development (L&D) is not a choice, but a necessity.

Our L&D program here at The Bonadio Group (TBG) is, and always will be, a key priority. By listening to our People’s feedback, staying up to date on current trends, and consistently engaging with leadership, we are able to continually evolve our L&D program to be the best it can be.

We recently had a discussion with Molly Haggerty, Learning & Development Specialist at Bonadio University (BU), our internal learning and development program, to explore the current trends in L&D and how they are driving many of our firm-wide strategic initiatives.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Over the past few years, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) have increasingly become key areas of focus and growth for many companies. At TBG, we recognize the evolving nature of DE&I and have committed to advancing our firm’s ongoing learning journey.

One of the first steps in our DE&I journey was taken in 2019 when we established the Council for DE&I. The Council, which is aimed at creating a truly inclusive work environment where all our People are able to achieve their greatest potential to serve each other and our clients, is made up of four committees dedicated to Communications, Alliances, Recruitment & Retention, and Education.

During the early stages of the Council, the Communications Committee created an internal quarterly DE&I newsletter called The Inclusionary. This newsletter was a large source of the initial DE&I education at the firm as it contained educational resources, “What Would You Do?” style situations, and more.

Additionally, the Education Committee provided resources to our People via the Ampersand, our internal company website.

“At first, I was simply finding local educational events and LinkedIn Learning sessions and posting them on the Ampersand so our People could attend, meet others, and learn about various DE&I topics on their own,” shared Molly.

While these resources still remain, our DE&I learning strategy has progressed into a much larger and more intentional program. In fact, we even hired our first ever Manager of DE&I, Andrew Stephens, to help us further our DE&I journey. Working hand in hand with leadership, Andrew has developed a robust firm-wide DE&I strategy that focuses heavily on education.

One major addition that we have already seen in action is our quarterly DE&I Lunch & Learn sessions. These sessions are created by the Education Committee and facilitated by our Manager of DE&I across all of our major regional offices. These sessions offer the chance for our People to engage in interactive activities and conversation on a wide range of DE&I topics.

“These trainings have been extremely successful. Our People truly engage with the material and have enjoyed walking away from the sessions with tangible skills they can implement in their own lives as well as share to others,” added Molly.

Professional Skills Development

Earlier this year, our L&D team also focused their efforts on introducing an internal program aimed at enhancing the development of professional skills.

Given the technical nature of accounting, we often spend a lot of our time and resources on technical skills training. However, in the world of accounting, professional development training is arguably just as important.

“At TBG, we aim to develop our People as whole leaders, not just technical experts. The ultimate goal is to create well-rounded professionals,” shared Molly.

Earlier this year, the BU team launched two needs assessments to our managers and principals to gain feedback on what training, resources, and materials they still need in order to do their jobs in the most effective way.

These assessments offered our People and opportunity to share which skills they would like to develop, including communication, collaboration, leadership, conflict management, decision making, and so on. Our People were also given the chance to share what topics they need more training on in order to support their teams, their preferred learning modality, and how they would prefer to receive this training.

“With this data, we were able to see major trends in our respondent’s answers. This has allowed us to incorporate their needs into our formal learning programs. From there, we partnered with our firm leaders to co-teach these skills,” added Molly.

“These needs assessments have been extremely effective and while the development program may look different each year based on our firm’s needs, we plan to continue this annually.”

Looking Ahead: Artificial Intelligence

According to a recent survey of accounting & audit firms and corporate tax departments in the U.S., U.K., and Canada conducted by Thomson Reuters, only 11% of respondents currently use artificial intelligence (AI) on a wide scale, yet 51% expect to use it within the next six to 12 months.

In recognizing the potential of AI and the many opportunities it can bring to our firm, our BU team has recently started implementing some of its capabilities in the area of education.

Through conferences.io, the firm’s live-audience CPE engagement platform, we have been able to utilize some AI capabilities to facilitate the CPE webinar process.

“Through AI, we have been able to upload our course summaries and learning objectives and the platform produces insightful polling questions for webinar participants,” shared Molly.

“We are very much looking forward to further optimizing our learning and development programs here at TBG through the use of AI to provide our People with the most efficient and beneficial learning experience possible.”

To learn more about the various learning and development programs at TBG, click here. If you’re interested in finding out what a career at The Bonadio Group could look like for you, reach out today or check out the current openings here.

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