On the positive side, the hiring of ethnically diverse accounting graduates increased slightly. The number of candidates successfully completing the CPA Exam has also been declining, and it remains to be seen whether a post-COVID environment can provide some future improvements.
CPAs are poised on the edge of a great adventure to not only recruit, but also to mentor, new entrants into a rewarding career. Although there is no substitute for individual initiative and time commitment, there are many resources available to make the process a little easier. This column covered AICPA and Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) resources in the December 2021 issue (https://bit.ly/3EQA30W).
The AICPA website includes webpages for both diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) materials (https://bit.ly/3eFcwoU), and resources for women in the profession (https://bit.ly/3D1L4uZ), among other helpful DEI content tied to related topics.
The IMA publishes both a worldwide and U.S.-focused summary of its survey data in Diversifying Global Accounting Talent: Actionable Solutions for Progress (https://bit.ly/3S8KS1p) as a multi-year joint project with the California Society of CPAs. The IMA report provides insights into how working accountants view their opportunities—or lack of opportunities—in the profession; it also recommends many positive steps to address many of the issues.
Approximately half of U.S. state CPA societies present a publicly available dedicated webpage or curated collection of DEI resources. The menu of materials usually includes links to AICPA materials, articles from external accounting publications, and continuing professional education seminars. More than 30 state CPA societies partner with the IMA on its “diversifying talent” reports, and include the IMA study on their website.
This month’s column reviews three state society websites that provide some unique publicly available materials developed by or for that organization.
Maryland Association of CPAs
The Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA) website (https://www.macpa.org/) includes a Diversity and Inclusion page with links to recent Diversity Initiative Updates from the MACPA blog, upcoming events, a statement on the MACPA Pipeline Initiative, and information on volunteering to mentor or requesting a mentor (https://bit.ly/3VA0WMq).
The MACPA blog (https://www.macpa.org/blog/) organizes posts under 12 interest areas, and the DEI content can be found under Leadership and Management. One recent article, “Our DNA Must Start with DEI” (https://bit.ly/3D3qzOD), presents some noteworthy ideas from a recent American Society of Association Executives meeting, including that DEI must be considered important at all levels of an organization, senior leadership must model DEI and be willing to have uncomfortable conversations, and that DEI efforts should focus on progress not perfection.
- The MACPA presents episodes of its “Future-Proof” pod-cast (https://bit.ly/3s6zyIG) every two weeks or so, running from 20 minutes to 1 hour. The presentations include access to show notes with links to additional resources. Although DEI issues are not a frequent topic, two specific items included the following: “Wanted: A More Diverse Profession” (Episode 130, Feb. 1, 2021) provides great insights into DEI and the importance of mentorship (https://bit.ly/3D5wgeJ).
- “The Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion” (Episode 24, Sep. 24, 2018) discusses the necessity of DEI efforts for future-proofing organizations (https://bit.ly/3VyW769).
Michigan Association of CPAs
The Michigan Association of CPAs (https://www.micpa.org/) presents a Specialized Areas Hub under the Resources section of its website (https://bit.ly/3SbpI2s), covering five different interest areas, including DEI, and women’s initiatives. The DEI webpage (https://bit.ly/3TrARNS) provides access to a “CEO Action Plan” with many resources for CEOs and presidents. The Women’s Initiatives webpage (https://bit.ly/3s5GHZw) connects to MICPA discussion boards and the AICPA Women in the Profession main page (https://bit.ly/3MDQaAX).
The best source of DEI-related articles on MICPA’s website is the news feature under “Stay Informed.” “Turning Point: Driving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Accounting” (April 2021) raises some important points that are only infrequently addressed. The accounting profession has an obvious pipeline issue in terms of new entrants being attracted to the profession, but this inadequate pipeline is doubly short of diverse newcomers. New accountants joining a firm often do not receive sufficient mentoring, which can exacerbate the lack of career progression, particularly for minority and women staff accountants. The article provides several reasons for hope, as well as and actions that can be taken to improve DEI in the accounting environment (https://bit.ly/3eFjxpT).
MICPA started a monthly “Off the Ledger” podcast series in July 2021. The episodes average 15 to 20 minutes. The pod-cast homepage (https://bit.ly/3MFAInO) presents the six most recent offerings, with connections to several podcast hosting sites for older content. On the Apple “Off the Ledger” preview page (https://apple.co/3VzB7w1), as an example, users can listen to “Diversity in the Accounting Profession” (February 2022), an interview with a CPA who started a minority-owned firm in Detroit. This is a “must-listen” audio about a firm that provides opportunities for hard-working minority students who did not earn the 4.0 GPAs necessary to be attractive to the Big Four. Many of these candidates do go on to become successful CPAs. Diversity creates opportunities for the CPA firm, while the firm provides opportunities to under-represented accountants.
New Jersey Society of CPAs
The New Jersey Society of CPAs (https://www.njcpa.org/) offers more than two dozen “knowledge hubs” (https://bit.ly/3TzNkiF) under the Stay Informed section of its website. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Knowledge Hub (https://bit.ly/3Ts9tPK) presents 40 articles, blog posts, podcasts, and videos addressing current diversity issues and recommendations for “closing the diversity gap.” On a similar note, the CPA Pipeline Knowledge Hub (https://bit.ly/3s6Slnc) presents articles, videos, and podcasts on attracting, mentoring, and retaining new participants in the CPA profession. Career Resources for Women in Accounting (https://bit.ly/3Tuk8JJ) is located with other career-related materials under the “Build Career” area of the site.
Many of the NJCPA articles and blog posts take a practical, action-oriented approach. For example, “How to Embed DEI into Your Office Culture” (https://bit.ly/3eGtRxY) identifies three key strategic activities: assessing the organization’s priorities, engaging team members and developing agreement from top-down and bottom-up, and reviewing communication standards for maximum internal and external outreach. Another suggestion that should have a major impact is to develop employee resource groups and identify leaders for DEI initiatives. Last but not least, organizations should be sure to measure the effectiveness of their DEI efforts.
IssuesWatch Podcasts (https://bit.ly/3CHoAhx) are released weekly on a variety of topics, and generally run 10 or 20 minutes. “Top 3 Ways to Improve DEI” (Number 109, Feb. 25, 2022) discusses the importance of an industry-wide effort, not just individual firm participation. In addition, the “tone at the top” is a very important factor in successfully improving DEI results (https://bit.ly/3EQuWxB). “Solutions to Close the Diversity Gap in Accounting” (Number 104, February 3, 2022) is an interesting interview with Darryl Jackson, discussing the IMA’s multi-year DEI research and the issues coming to light, as well as proposed solutions (https://bit.ly/3yKBpGL).
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