Diversity in accounting: An ethical, social and practical imperative

October 9, 2020

By Avani M. Desai, Accounting Today

Serving in an attractive profession that offers great earning potential and a reliable array of career choices, accountants are historically sought after particularly during tough economies or similar times of crises. Despite such demand, the numbers within the profession remain unbalanced. Yes, women have come to represent more than 50 percent of accounting graduates over the last 20 years, and over the past 10, the percentages of accounting undergraduates and graduates who are minorities have also increased. In fact, aTrends report shows that 42 percent of accounting graduates are African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian or Pacific Islander, multiethnic, or other. However, total minority hiring in the world of American CPAs has remained inexcusably low, and that must change so as to better serve both the workforce and its customers.

The U.S. Census of 2010 predicted that minorities will be the majority by 2042 — that’s about two decades away from now — and communities and clients are shifting in their demographic makeup to reflect that. Moreover, the combined purchasing power of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians was at $4 trillion in 2018 according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, and demographers predict that the growth of minority populations will contribute between 44-70 percent to the total growth of U.S. purchasing power from 2000 to 2045. Still, this isn’t groundbreaking news, and diversity initiatives have been nudging accounting departments and firms for years to sit up and notice that the United States is more of a melting pot than ever before. But the need for CPA firms to bolster diversity and inclusion — and to provide not just a seat at the table, but also a voice — has never been as critical or urgent as it is today.

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