How to make the accounting profession more diverse and inclusive

Posted on Wednesday, December 18, 2019 by Nicole Fracasso

The number of minority students enrolling in accounting programs has significantly increased over the past ten years, according to AICPA’s 2019 Trends in the supply of accounting graduates and the demand for public accounting recruits report. In a recent article from AICPA Insights, Amy Drumgo, AICPA’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion discusses what’s driving the increase in minority enrollments, the opportunities it brings to firms and the future of diversity and inclusion.

“Accounting is one of the most attractive professions for students of all backgrounds,” Drumgo said. “It offers great earning potential and a broad array of career opportunities.”

Drumgo says a lot of Latino, Black and American Indian students are first-generation college students. Therefore, it makes sense that they would want a career in accounting, an industry that remains stable even when the economy is down.

While the Latino student population has increased from 14% to 19% since 2010, the Black student enrollment has not grown.

“It’s not clear why this is,” Drumgo said. “It may be that some Black graduates are opting to accept positions in non-public accounting firms.”

Even though enrollment is up, “minority hiring has stayed relatively flat.” While there is a notable increase in the hiring of Latino graduates, there has been a decline in the hiring of Asian/Pacific Islander graduates, according to Drumgo.

“We attribute this to changing immigration policies that have made it harder for foreign students, specifically Asians, to attend U.S. colleges and universities,” Drumgo said. “This has also led to fewer public accounting firms opting to sponsor Asian hires.”

Drumgo also emphasizes the fact that this report is just a “snapshot in time.,” and that overall, diversity is increasing within the accounting industry. When thinking about the future, it’s most important to focus on inclusion, according to Drumgo.

“Diversity is who we are and the unique characteristics each individual represents,” she said. “Inclusion is how we utilize diversity at all levels of the organizations and intentionally create a sense of belonging and respect.”

There is still a lot more work to be done, says Drumgo. People need to continue working so that people of all backgrounds feel included.

“Don’t just give them a seat at the table, give them a voice,” she said.

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