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September 29, 2023

Centenarian CPA Recalls a Time When PwC Wasn’t So Committed to Diversity

Here's a great story about Aaron Blecker, a 105-year-old Great Neck, New York resident who's had a pretty good run. And yep, he's an accountant.

Here's a great story about Aaron Blecker, a 105-year-old Great Neck, New York resident who's had a pretty good run. And yep, he's an accountant.

When you read his story, you learn that his reason for choosing accounting for a career is not all that different from the reason that lots of people choose accounting today:

Throughout high school, he worked very hard and was later accepted to City College with a 95 GPA. But, then, he faced a decision. What would he major in? “I didn’t know,” said Blecker. “My mother wanted me to be an accountant, so I put down accounting.”

Yes, even in the early part of the 20th Century, young people picked up accounting because they couldn't think of anything better and wanted to please their parents. Funny how things don't change much.

What has changed, however, is the firms. Here's Blecker's story of pursuing a job at a big accounting firm:

While working as a linen delivery boy during the day, Blecker attended night school. It took him 10 years to complete college because of his day job. After earning his degree, he worked for an accounting firm for five years before taking his four-part CPA exam. Blecker passed on the first shot, and was eager to begin his career at an accounting firm.

“I figured, here I am,” said Blecker. “I’m a CPA and the world’s waiting for me. I applied to one of the big accounting firms, Price Waterhouse. I figured they would give me a job and I’d get started and I’d be of use to them. But, they told me, ‘sorry, we don’t hire Jews.’ I was so disappointed.”

PwC seems to have come around on whatever prejudices they've had over the years. They hire people of all faiths and backgrounds, US Chairman Tim Ryan talks about diversity a lot and wants other people to talk about it too. They deserve credit for that.

And despite the firm's attitude at the time, things turned out pretty well for Mr. Blecker. He started his own firm "going door to door to build up and create his own business." He had some of his clients for 70 years and, of course, "keeps up with tax laws writes everything by hand."

These days, prejudicial attitudes aren't really tolerated in the workplace. Except for certain corners of the Trump Administration, of course.


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