NABA, CAQ announce partnership to grow accounting talent pipeline

By Neil Amato

The National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) and the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) are teaming up to help community college students progress from two-year to four-year accounting programs. Support will include connecting students with mentors and tutors.

NABA and the CAQ announced the partnership on Thursday. NABA will manage the program, according to a news release, with a $1 million grant over five years from the CAQ, which is affiliated with the AICPA. The program is centered on helping high school and college students transition to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

In January, the CAQ announced a new program designed to increase the diversity of talent coming into the accounting profession. That announcement included the creation of Accounting+, an initiative to help students understand the benefits and possibilities of a career in accounting. The partnership will provide NABA with Accounting+ resources.

CAQ research suggests that 89% of Black and African American community college students are open to accounting as a profession, but the number drops dramatically when it comes to selecting an accounting degree over other areas of business.

"While public company audit firms have made progress with regards to diversity, we can and must do more to diversify the talent pipeline. We need to better understand what is driving the fall-off between openness to accounting and ultimately not pursuing the degree, especially for Black community college students, who in our research showed the highest level of interest. We believe there is tremendous opportunity to do more to engage these students," CAQ CEO Julie Bell Lindsay said in a news release. "Through this collaboration with NABA, we aim to address current barriers to entry that Black students face when exploring a career in accounting, and to increase the number of Black CPAs within the public company audit profession."

Guylaine Saint Juste, NABA's CEO and president, said the organization's work to create educational pathways from high school and community college to HBCUs through articulation agreements was a critical component of building diverse and robust accounting and finance talent pipelines. "Our partnership with CAQ better positions us to engage and provide students with wrap around support services that ensure their journey to higher ed is both manageable and successful at scale," Saint Juste said in the release.

— To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Neil Amato at Neil.Amato@aicpa-cima.com.

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