insight magazine

IN Play: Q&A With Dorri C. McWhorter, CPA, CITP, CGMA

The CEO of the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and current chair of the ICPAS Board of Directors has a vision of innovation and inclusion for the accounting profession of the future. By Derrick Lilly | Fall 2020

in play 310x388At age 11, superhero-loving Dorri McWhorter decided she wanted to become an accountant, and despite all she has accomplished throughout her career, she’ll tell you that her passion and energy haven’t changed much since then. Maybe that’s a good thing. Not every Illinois CPA Society chairperson kicks off their term amid a pandemic that limits their ability to engage with members. And not every chairperson steps in during social and political movements that are impacting the business world on so many levels. But the unintentional timing of the Society appointing its first Black chairperson is perfect in hindsight, especially when you consider she’s still a true believer in superheroes and the justice and good they stand for.

You call CPAs the superheroes of business. In a year disrupted by COVID-19, economic uncertainty, and important social and political movements, superheroes are surely needed. What opportunities are you seeing for CPAs to step into this superhero role and influence positive change in the business world?

Right now, there is so much disruption and uncertainty. Because CPAs are trusted, they have an opportunity to build upon that trust and provide their strategic insights about how businesses can recover. Bottom line, CPAs are well-positioned to support that recovery and growth.

Achieving racial and gender equity is the YWCA’s mission, but it’s also a personal passion of yours. How can business leaders ensure any initiatives their organizations put forth on these issues are meaningful and have staying power?

Business leaders have the opportunity to lean into this moment and recognize there’s a combination of crises that have converged. Intention matters. When tackling these tough issues, leaders must begin with the end in mind. It’s not about just reacting to the moment; having a solution orientation provides the basis to create a truly sustainable response.

Can you tell us a bit more about the YWCA’s new Until Justice Just Is campaign?

“Until Justice Just Is” is the rallying cry for the YWCA’s Racial Justice League. Given the civil unrest, we felt it was important to remind people of the work that the YWCA has done for over 140 years, give people an opportunity to directly support that work, and make their own commitments to advance racial justice. Just one tool we’re providing is a resource library, including an anti-racism discussion guide, to support people and organizations in their journey to understand the impact of racism and how they can be part of the solution.

The accounting profession has historically lacked both gender and racial diversity at the leadership levels. You’ve successfully overcome both at various organizations throughout your career. What lessons have you learned that can benefit other women and minorities aspiring to your level of success?

You have to remain true to who you are! Of course, you need to understand the culture of organizations and determine how much effort you want to put forward in evolving the culture if it doesn’t feel inclusive. Sometimes, you can support cultural change, and sometimes you need to know when it may simply be time to move on. I truly believe people do the best they can with what they know (or have experienced). Along my career, I have had to determine when I can support learning or when the environment was not working for me. I have also continued to learn myself to make sure that I am always evolving and being the best version of myself.

Any parting words for readers?

I have such a high level of respect for the CPA profession and am grateful for the Society’s members as we continue to navigate this environment. I invite everyone to continue developing our trusted and strategic positioning in business as we work together to reimagine and innovate a better world!

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