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January 30, 2023

Vault Survey: Accounting Firms OK with Gay

According to responses thus far on Vault's annual Accounting Survey (which you can take here if you haven't already), it appears as though the largest 100 accounting firms are pretty darn gay friendly:

[W]ith respect to diversity, one question in the survey asks accountants to rate their firm’s initiatives with respect to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. More specifically, it asks accountants to rate their firm’s LGBT diversity hiring, promoting, and mentoring practices on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning “needs a lot of improvement” and 10 meaning “receptive and effective.”

[W]ith nearly 7,000 surveys filled out thus far, accountants give their firm’s LGBT diversity efforts an average score of 8.42 out of 10. Which is pretty good. Meanwhile, a subset of these accountants—those who identify themselves as being an LGBT individual—give their firms an average score of 8.16 out of 10. Which is about 3.2 percent lower. (Note that, overall, 2 percent, or 1 in 50, of the accountants who’ve taken the survey identify themselves as an LGBT worker.)

The survey also asks accountants to comment on their firm’s diversity initiatives. And, judging by the comments received so far by LGBT individuals, it seems that although most accounting firms now have affinity groups for LGBT employees and do place some emphasis on diversity hiring, not all LGBT employees feel accepted on the job.

Note Vault baits its blog post title asking if the Big 4 are gay-friendly but survey results — much like these firms' perceived diversity — are inclusive down through mid-size firms.

Don't start planning a Pride party at your office just yet, though. One Big 4 respondent reflected that his firm is more neutral toward LGBT employees than actively seeking them out:

There’s no initiative to hire LGBT employees, although I wouldn’t say the firm is against hiring LGBT employees either. In fact, there are probably as many LGBT employees as African-Americans. It’s more of a company that respects others but doesn't push to change the culture as much as it lets on. It kind of goes by the adage “if it’s not broke, don't fix it,” as opposed to “it’s working fine, but how can we make it even better.”

I'm curious how this guy knows just how many LGBT coworkers he has so he can make this comparison. Granted there are Americans of African descent who don't look it and therefore would make it hard to count but do the gays in his office walk around wearing rainbow neckties so they can be easily identified?

Another respondent's comment pretty much makes that point:

Overall, we’re very committed to diversity. Though, there’s one area that I feel could use some more work, and that’s LGBT diversity. We recently created an LGBT affinity network to create an internal network for LGBT workers, but it doesn't seem to be making much progress, if at all. As an LGBT employee myself, I personally don't feel too comfortable coming out at work, in part because there seems to be no support network. While I’m sure my coworkers would have no problem with it, I don’t want to take a chance on it and end up hurting my future prospects with the firm.

You can imagine views on a firm's commitment to diversity and inclusion depends on a variety of factors, a major one being location.

Surprisingly, Vault says San Francisco LGBT respondents rate their firms' LGBT diversity practices lower than most cities. We aren't sure why but it's possible it is due in part to the fact that so many Bay Area employers are highly LGBT friendly, making a moderately LGBT-inclusive firm appear less impressive than it would in a different market.

Vault also told us that gay men gave a higher rating — about a full point — than lesbian women. Feel free to guess as to why this might be, perhaps it is a reflection of the profession's treatment of women as a whole?

Full results of the survey should be out in about eight weeks.


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