Commission to survey accounting profession’s diversity climate

BY KEN TYSIAC

An AICPA-led body plans to gather perspectives on the profession’s views on diversity and inclusion through a survey and provide a new best practices resource for firms that are developing diversity initiatives.

The recently formed AICPA National Commission on Diversity & Inclusion is charged with developing methods to help the profession recruit, retain, and promote a diverse workforce.

Ken Bouyer, chair of the commission, gave an update on its progress Sunday at the AICPA governing Council’s fall meeting.

The National Commission on Diversity & Inclusion will partner with several accounting organizations and state CPA societies to survey their respective memberships this fall. The survey will be what Bouyer called a “pulse check” on people’s views related to diversity in the profession.

He said the commission believes people in the profession are focused on promoting a diverse workforce and wants to use the survey to get a sense of what kind of progress is being made. The survey results will help ensure that the efforts of the commission are focused on developing programs and resources that will have the greatest potential impact on the profession.

Road map in the works

By next year, the commission expects to publish a “road map” for successful diversity initiatives. The resource would give businesses and firms a playbook of best practices to use if they decide to implement programs or ideas aimed at fostering diversity, such as mentoring.

“We want to help support firms, companies, or organizations that are beginning or want to begin thinking on this diversity and inclusion approach within their organizations,” Bouyer said in an interview before his presentation.

Nonwhites made up 25% of accounting personnel but just 10% of partners at CPA firms in 2012, according to the 2013 AICPA Trends survey.

Bouyer said it is important to attract and retain the best talent regardless of race or gender and to use diversity in thought and perspective to help businesses and firms move forward.

“Leveraging that diversity of perspective, when we do that, we become better firms, better organizations and advise our clients in a different way,” Bouyer said.

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

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