By Brady Rhoades
As EY Americas Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting, Ken Bouyer lives by a motto: “Lift as you climb.” But he has expectations of those he lifts, just as those who helped him had expectations. He poses this question to professionals who are looking to thrive in corporate America.
“How do you define success and what are you willing to ante up in order to achieve that level of success?”
The answer is different for everyone, he said to Black EOE Journal, but if teams pursue their purpose with commitment and a willing to sacrifice, the results can be startling.
“We’re incredibly committed to diversity and inclusion,” Bouyer said of EY, referring to the company’s stellar record of hiring and promoting women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities. “And I get to be an insider on that and get a sense of the investments we make… I get a chance to see it year in and year out.”
“When you think about why diversity and inclusion matter, a big part of it is the diversity of thought and perspective,” he added.
Bouyer had plenty of “lifters” as he labored his way up the steep incline during his early career years in the 1990s (he remembers his hire date at EY on October 1, 1990).
He was a first-generation corporate professional.
“I didn’t know how I should act, what I should do.”
But he had help.
“The mentors and role models I had and being part of that as a young professional: invaluable,” he said.
His biggest lesson?
“Your brand is everything. How do you show up every day in your office? What’s your brand and reputation like?”
He said integrity is foundational to EY’s brand and most great brands across a variety of business models. Ever in lift-and-climb mode, he encourages others to build their brands.
He asks corporate managers an uncomfortable but important question: When you leave the room, what do your employees say about you? What kinds of words are used?
“People have to trust and rely on you, and integrity is a big, big part of that,” he said.
Looking back on his rookie year at EY, he remembers a different corporate culture in America.
“When I first started… there were no programs focused on diversity and inclusiveness,” he said.
He’s proud of how far EY has come in the past 29 years, where they’re going, and what it means for future generations.
“Our talented minorities have an opportunity to be so successful, and anything we can do to help raise awareness around the diversity and inclusiveness issue is going to make us better.”
Bouyer, who lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter, is responsible for developing and implementing a recruiting strategy that focuses on creating a diverse talent pool. Fostering an inclusive culture where all individuals can achieve their full potential is a global priority and a business imperative for EY. The organization strives to reflect the changes in world demographics—taking into account the new mix of cultures and individual characteristics that build its talent pool.
Bouyer also serves on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Minority Initiatives Committee and a number of other boards. He is a recipient of the Federation of Schools of Accountancy “Practitioner Service Award” for his distinguished service to the profession of accounting and accounting education.
Bouyer earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York. He is a lifetime member of the National Association of Black Accountants.
Photo Credit: EY