Shameful: Lack of Diversity in the CPA Profession

Howard University’s Center for Accounting Education and Cook Ross Inc. finds that many African Americans are leaving public accounting out of frustration with a lack of advancement.

Frank Ross: Howard University Center for Accounting Education

Only 1 percent of public accounting partners are African American and only 3 percent of CFOs of Fortune 500 companies have minority backgrounds. Accounting firms have been trying to improve their recruitment of minorities, but efforts to hold on to minority staffers, particularly African Americans, are falling short. In 2007-2008, 22 percent of all new accounting graduates were minorities, down from 26 percent in the previous year. Within this group only 4 percent were African Americans in 2007-2008, down from 8 percent in 2006-2007.

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2 Responses to “Shameful: Lack of Diversity in the CPA Profession”

  1. Kel

    I agree with Mark, but I wonder if smaller firms that *do* have a sense of inclusiveness still have a problem retaining minority accountants.

    I only have anecdotal knowledge of this, but it does seem like smaller firms are still an uncomfortable place for a minority accountant to be.

    I wonder if it is a general feeling of homogeneity among established accountants that makes it uncomfortable for someone who is visibly “different” to work there.

  2. Mark

    Most of the problems noted in the article are systemic and apply to all people entering the profession, not just African Americans. The culture of most large firms is a difficult one in which to feel comfortable and in which to thrive. There is overriding time pressure on everyone and only a certain few will persist and succeed over the years. Most supervisors, managers and partners of these firms get very little good management training. The performance evaluation process is usually poorly done and fraught with hidden agenda and politics. The very large firms usually only need to keep, for the long run, a small number of people they originally hire. Up or out is and always will be the name of that game. Its a fast game and, although lip service is paid to it, very little thought is given to those who fall by the wayside.