As the profession continues to improve in employing and retaining a diverse workforce, it’s essential to reach diverse students at the secondary education level and the post-secondary education level who are considering accounting. At the recent AICPA 2018 Accounting Profession Diversity Pipeline Symposium presenters offered the following advice for attracting and retaining diverse students in college:
Connect with high school students. Although college students are closer to full-time employment, research has shown that students exposed to accounting in high school are more likely to choose it as a major. Engaging college-bound high schoolers increases the chances that when picking a major, accounting is at the top of their list.
Host support networks for diverse students. It can feel isolating and lonely to be the only person on campus who looks like you or comes from your background, so it’s important to show students that you already have networks of support they can lean on. These can mean student-led organizations, such as a campus chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants.
Help students get to know others of different backgrounds. For accounting professors, be mindful of how students group themselves together naturally in class and encourage collaboration among different groups when assigning group projects and class discussions.
Practice inclusion. Professionals, including faculty, need to understand how diversity and inclusion are distinct if efforts to build a diverse workforce are to succeed. It’s not enough to have these young people be interested in accounting, they also have to feel that they belong and are invested in the profession. That means interactions inside and outside of the classroom must be considered.
How do you think the profession could do more to recruit and keep diverse young talent? Let us know in the comments!