Chazz Randolph (he/him) was young when he learned that being of Mexican and African American descent in Orange County, California, meant his experiences navigating the world would be different. Chazz recalls having many thoughtful conversations with his parents about his identity and how his unique experiences would manifest into adversity and strength during his life. Now a manager at Moss Adams, Chazz passionately advocates for inclusivity through his role as national co-leader of the LatinX business resource group (BRG). Chazz explores his thoughts on fostering inclusion within the industry as part of this year’s celebration of Latinx Heritage Month.
The theme of this year’s Latinx Heritage Month celebration is Oportunidad Nace Aquí, or Opportunity is Born Here. What does that mean for you?
The definition of opportunity is having access to a set of circumstances that make things possible, and I believe that opportunity is plentiful at our firm in the forms of client service, social responsibility, and innovation. As one example, our BRGs are a great way for professionals of all levels to authentically speak their minds, share their experiences at work or beyond, and take on leadership responsibilities.
Further, our BRGs are one of the few places where professionals across the firm can collaborate internally and externally in a meaningful way regardless of if they are client facing or in a particular line of service. I am consistently amazed at the level of courage our people in BRGs have to express themselves in a professional setting, as well as the opportunity BRGs provide professionals at any level to lead events across the firm.
What inspired you to seek leadership in the LatinX BRG?
Ultimately I’m inspired to lead others because of the time and patience many people took with me along my journey.
When I reflect on my late teenage years and early college experience, I was often less privy than my peers on things like personal finances, microaggressions, and professional development. I wasn’t aware of my options after high school, I didn’t know the consequences of taking out student loans so young, and I couldn’t understand why people from my racial background represent such a small percentage of certified public accountants. I remember being so anxious because it felt like those around me had it all figured out while I was always just one or two steps behind for seemingly no reason.
As I’ve gotten older and gained experience, I’ve noticed that those who share a similar racial or socioeconomic background as me or my parents tend to have a story congruent with mine, and we shouldn’t look at these gaps in knowledge as something that holds us back. Rather, we should see these gaps as an opportunity to be better at achieving what we truly want. I think we can seek the tools we’re missing through mentorship from those that are more experienced. It’s important to remember that things don’t happen to us. They happen for us.
Can you share more about the difference mentorship has had on your career opportunities?
We’re all given a set of tools from those who raised us, largely driven by what they learned and collected along their lifetime. With every generation, my family has passed along the tools to those who come after them so they can climb further. In the instances where I didn’t have a particular tool, I sought mentorship.
For example, while in college, a coworker connected me with a Latina woman who worked as an executive in public accounting. She went out of her way to teach me about the industry, and she made sure I had what I needed to successfully interview. She even helped me find an affordable suit to wear. This culminated in landing my first job in public accounting.
Through mentorship, she was able to create opportunity for me by identifying the areas I was deficient in. This left a significant impact on me, and I truly hope that through mentorship I can create this opportunity for others coming up the ranks.
What does our accountability to I&D work look like to you?
We must consistently measure our accountability using tangible metrics, glean insights from emerging and historical trends, and hold ourselves accountable when we are off course. In audit, I’ve come to appreciate analyzing trends because they tend to tell a story behind any given number which is half the battle when trying to understand what’s going on.
Currently at our firm I believe the numbers are telling us we’re doing an amazing job at hiring diverse talent, but we are having a very hard time retaining them as they move into upper levels of management. I’d like us to understand why.
I believe that we shouldn’t be as concerned about trying to make everyone believe the same thing; rather, we should be actively trying to ensure that everyone is tolerant of each other and that our beliefs or backgrounds don’t preclude people from future opportunities. We’re all walking beside one another, so let’s be kind and help each other out along the way. That’s how we influence the industry.