It doesn't take an expert to tell us that accounting is still a world dominated by white guys. White guys who take it upon themselves to recruit other white guys to chair diversity committees so they can figure out why the profession is dominated by white guys.
The problem, says one champion of diversity, is that the cool, sexy, diverse people just aren't attracted to accounting.
The need to change perceptions of diversity and provide equal opportunities, all while meeting growing marketplace demands, feeds a competitive cycle that's left the accounting profession struggling to shed a seemingly unbreakable stereotype—public accounting is still dominated by white males.
While this isn’t entirely true, for minority students and young professionals still deciding on a degree and career path, this perception is one that arguably dissuades them from ever pursuing accounting and the CPA credential.
“Quick stereotypes still exist and easily last with students. Not only that, but there’s another perception issue surrounding the accounting profession—there’s a lack of sexiness to it,” says Melina Barona, diversity recruiter and campus development manager with KPMG LLP. “This perception compounds the pipeline challenge; we simply don’t have enough students pursuing accounting to meet demand.”
Maybe I'm weird but what isn't sexy about money? Accounting is what makes the world's financial powers go round (well, except at the Federal Reserve — they aren't bound to the earthly rules of debits and credits as they can basically conjure up money out of thin air). Hot!
A quick peek at the latest AICPA Trends in Accounting report and you can clearly see just how white-dominated this field is.
Not only do more white folks enroll in accounting programs, they are really the only ones sticking it out to partner. See also: white guy diversity committee.
What is the solution? How about a Sexy Accountants wall calendar?
“Melina hit on it…we need to bring some attractiveness to the profession. Like Chicago Fire and Chicago PD, we need a Chicago CPA to show accounting can be exciting, fun and lucrative,” quips Kari Natale, assistant director of development with the Illinois CPA Society and CPA Endowment Fund of Illinois. “But in all seriousness, early outreach is important regardless of how hard the ROI is to measure. We need young people to realize that if they like sports, food or fashion, whatever, there’s something appealing for them to do as a CPA in every industry.”
So, we've marginalized white guys to the point where they feel guilty about being white, and we still haven't figured out how to attract the United Colors of Benetton candidates we need to show corporate America accountants can be diverse too. Nice work, guys, er, gals, er gender-neutral human beings!