The profession isn’t doing enough to support African-American accountants

Posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 by Jessica Salerno

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

A 2017 survey on African-Americans in accounting compared results from 2006 and while improvements were found, a lot needs to change if the profession wants to reflect the diverse communities it serves.

The Center for Accounting Education at Howard University covered a wide range of topics, including formal mentoring, corporate politics and establishing credibility. On the topic of formal mentoring results found “…limited access to informal networks hinders the ability to navigate corporate politics, which limits or slows career advancement,” despite a rise in formal mentoring programs across firms.

The authors of the survey mention the significance of unconscious bias, stating “While our survey does not address unconscious biases, it is an explanation that is being offered in the profession. Unconscious biases are judgments that people hold outside their awareness that can affect how they treat others in the workplace and elsewhere. Recognizing and overcoming these biases may be a key to making further progress toward diversity and inclusion in the profession and helping African-American accountants establish strong social networks and navigate corporate politics.”

The survey also notes that pipeline figures do not show improvement for the future. At U.S. CPA firms, only 3% of professional staff are African-American while 0.3% are partners.

Read the article in full here for suggestions on how to improve these numbers and listen to our podcast episode on diversity and inclusion in accounting.