Newly formed commission renews focus on ethnic diversity among CPAs

BY KEN TYSIAC

A new commission charged with increasing ethnic diversity in the accounting profession will hold its first quarterly meeting this week at the AICPA offices in Durham, N.C., the AICPA announced today.

The formation of the National Commission on Diversity reflects a renewed determination within the profession to increase the retention and advancement of under-represented minorities.

Representatives from minority professional advocacy groups, CPA firms, state CPA societies, business and industry, government, and education are included in the commission membership. Ken Bouyer, Americas director of inclusiveness recruiting at Ernst & Young, will chair the commission.

The goal of the commission is to help the profession’s diversity better reflect that of the clients and communities CPAs serve, according to the AICPA.

While minorities make up 20% of professional staff positions at accounting firms, just 6% of partners are ethnically diverse, according to research contained in the AICPA report, 2011 Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits.

“The AICPA has done a tremendous amount of work to make the profession more inclusive, and we will continue to build upon those efforts,” Kim Drumgo, vice chair of the commission and director of diversity and inclusion at the AICPA, said in a statement. “The commission brings together a wide range of stakeholders to address the issue of diversity. This is a critical step toward ensuring the profession’s continued growth and ability to meet the needs of those we serve.”

The commission, which will have 15 members in addition to Bouyer and Drumgo, will work toward proposing strategies to increase the number of minorities in the accounting profession. The commission also will closely monitor the population trends and analyze their impact on the profession and CPAs’ clients.

Minorities constituted 25% of new accounting bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates hired by CPA firms in 2010, up from 17% in 2001, according to the Trends study. But Bouyer said in a statement that while the profession has made encouraging progress with regard to recruiting diverse professionals, more work needs to be done on retaining and promoting minorities.

Ethnic diversity in the communities CPAs serve is increasing, statistics show. The percentage of businesses owned by minorities in the United States increased from 17.4% in 2002 to 21.4% in 2007, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

“It is imperative that the profession’s makeup evolve to reflect the diversity found in American businesses and society as a whole,” AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, said in a statement.

Ken Tysiac ( ktysiac@aicpa.org ) is a JofA senior editor.

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