Diversity is critical to the future of the CPA profession
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Diversity is critical to the future of the CPA profession

1 month ago · 2 min read · AICPA Insights Blog

Now is a great time to adjust recruiting strategies and increase the diversity of your teams.

Firms across the country face a nationwide staffing shortage. To attract top talent, you need to demonstrate your commitment to hiring and promoting people of diverse lived experiences.

Ozo Nnamadim, CPA and Senior Manager — Diversity and Inclusion, Pipeline & LGBTQ+ Initiatives at AICPA® & CIMA®, together as the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants®, advises that, in order to address the staffing shortage and build a sustainable accounting profession, creating a culture of belonging is essential:

“The next generation of talent expects a work culture that fosters belonging and collaboration. Despite the progress the profession has made in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, job applicants must also see themselves at each level of an organization. Participating in the PCPS George Willie Ethnically Diverse Student Internship & Scholarship program demonstrates that a firm welcomes ethnic diversity and is invested in our communities.”

When firms hire and retain talent from diverse backgrounds, they understand the business case for diversity and inclusion, and better reflect the communities they serve.

Diversity is a requirement and a benefit

"Whether a firm embraces diversity and inclusion for the business case or for the ethical reasons, a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is essential to long-term sustainability.

Fostering belonging is good for business as it can increase employee job performance, reduce turnover, increase retention, and decrease sick days employees take. Additionally, diverse executive teams are more likely to have industry-leading profitability,” noted Nnamadim.

Kinman Tong, Partner and Inclusion & Diversity Board Member at Moss Adams agreed and stated: “Inclusion and belonging are so critical to the development and growth of our people in our firm. When our people belong and are included in all facets of their life, career and community, they will be more successful and impactful in making a difference in our firm and community.”

Fortunately, young people from diverse backgrounds with education in accounting are entering the workforce. The AICPA 2021 Trends Report found that 41% of accounting graduates are nonwhite, and that nonwhite partners and professional staff are 18% and 23%, respectively. These statistics demonstrate the need for programs like the George Willie Ethnically Diverse Student Internship & Scholarship program to achieve equitable ethnic representation.

Firms can serve as an entry point for an aspiring CPA to gain practical experience and build their network — critical factors for successfully increasing ethnic diversity within the profession.

George Willie Ethnically Diverse Student Internship & Scholarship program

The Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) George Willie Ethnically Diverse Student Internship & Scholarship program is an excellent resource to initiate or expand your firm’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Named in honor of George Willie, CPA, CGMA, and former chair of our PCPS Executive Committee and the AICPA Minority Initiatives Committee, the program is designed to increase ethnic minority representation by supporting accounting students from diverse backgrounds.

Ten university students are honored annually and PCPS awards up to $10,000 to each student to financially support their ultimate entry into the profession. On top of that, awardees are offered a four-month paid internship during the first quarter of the year at a firm.

The program showcases a firm’s commitment to recruit diverse talent and effectively include staff from different backgrounds and cultures into the workplace. And the internship provides as much value for firms as it does for students.

With four months’ work experience — ideally during the January-to-April busy season — interns can learn from established accounting, finance and business professionals, gaining experience to shape their resume and leading to new opportunities for gainful employment. And, of course, at the end of the internship, firms have the option to extend a full-time and permanent position to the intern.

Firm applications are due January 15. Student applications open in February 2023. Apply for the George Willie Ethnically Diverse Student Internship & Scholarship program today!

Ashlin Minogue

Ashlin Minogue is a senior content writer at AICPA & CIMA, together as the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

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