Increasing diversity within the profession remains a priority at the AICPA. The Institute’s 2001 supply-and-demand study revealed that of the CPAs working in public accounting firms, only 7% were minorities. At the same time, according to the latest U.S. census, minorities made up 31% of the population, showing there’s considerable room for improvement in the profession’s demographics.
The call for diversity is as much a social issue as a business one. As demographics shift and businesses become more global, those companies with employees who can work with people of different backgrounds and cultures increase their chances for success. The Institute has refined the structure of its diversity programs to focus on individuals from high school through the seasoned stages of their professional careers. The Institute seizes on opportunities to create new alliances, partnerships and programs to promote and support talented minorities focused on business. It has evaluated the effectiveness of these long-running programs and made a number of changes to help ensure that only the best remain. The key programs are as follows:
High school level
Advertising through print media and radio.
College residency programs. (These expose juniors and seniors to accounting and other business disciplines as well as to the excitement of the college campus through a weeklong program with a tailored curriculum.)
Limited scholarships for college-bound seniors.
CPAs in the classrooms who talk to students about the excitement and benefits of the profession.
College and university initiatives
The scholarship for minority accounting students program provides financial aid to talented minorities who show potential to become CPAs. A study revealed that between 24% and 31% of scholarship recipients (prior to recent eligibility changes) had either become certified or passed the Uniform CPA Examination.
An accounting scholars workshop strengthens leadership, team- building, presentation and communication skills of participating students who are graduate-level or are undergraduates entering their senior year.
The minority initiatives committee partners with colleges and universities that graduate large numbers of minority students in business. These outreach efforts include campus visits to interact with students and faculty and to provide information about the Institute, the CPA exam and the profession.
The AICPA fellowship program for minority doctoral students enables more minorities to enter and move ahead in the accounting profession and academia; these are augmented by several programs to increase the number and the skill sets of minority faculty. A professor can have a tremendous impact on a young person’s ultimate career decision; studies show that students view their professors as both role models and mentors.
The Institute currently has 22 PhD candidates receiving fellowships to continue their doctoral studies, the largest number since the program’s inception. Over the past 20 years the program has delivered 35 PhDs into the profession who are currently teaching at universities across the nation.
The Institute’s emerging partnership with the faculty diversity and initiative section of the American Accounting Association will bring more minority professors into a larger arena and increase opportunities for professional development, critical research and networking to help ensure their teaching skills are excellent.
State CPA societies, minority accounting organizations
The AICPA continues its efforts to attract seasoned professionals to committee service at both the Institute and state societies to increase the level of diversity at various policy-making levels throughout the profession.
New and joint programs with historical partners have increased. The Institute is seeking to develop successful mentor programs that will have an impact on students as well as young and seasoned professionals.
In the media
In 2002 two ads featuring CPAs with exciting careers (below) were created and placed in magazines read by students and the people who influence them. Additionally, several radio ads were placed in selected markets across the country. These ad campaigns draw attention to the interesting and exciting careers available to people with accounting backgrounds.
—Daniel Hobson, CPA
manager, minority initiatives, AICPA
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