Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Why Are Accounting Firms Crappy at Diversifying Their Workforce?

Celebrate Diversity_Fullpic_1.gifSince accounting firms like to boast about their diverse workforce but always seem to maintain that it isn’t diverse enough, we would kindly ask, “which the hell is it?” The whole argument of “we can always do better” is fine but at least one academic is saying that the accounting profession has pretty much failed in its attempts to develop a more diverse workforce.
Continued, after the jump

Web CPA:

Frank K. Ross, director of the Howard University Center for Accounting Education, called for increased efforts at recruitment, retention and leadership development…Ross noted that despite four decades of effort and significant progress, accounting still trails other professions, and many large businesses, in minority representation. According to the AICPA’s most recent study, minorities currently hold only 5 percent of partnership positions at the largest firms, and only one percent of partners are African-American.

So if accounting firms of all sizes having been trying for forty years to diversify their workforce and still trail other professions and minorities only compromise 5% of the partner positions at the largest firms, does that mean these firms really suck at recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce?
If the AICPA is calling out its own members for sucking at diversity, we might have more of a corporate culture issue as the source of the problem. Professor Ross notes “significant progress” but that doesn’t really seem to be illustrated here.
Fortunately, like all good academics, Prof. Ross manages to have suggestions for improvement:

• Making diversity an integral part of the corporate culture – building it into the DNA of the organization;
• Developing special training for employees at all levels to help them become more sensitive to cultural differences and more aware of diverse styles of working;
• Identifying the best and brightest from their minority workforce and singling them out for focused support at all times, including downturns; and,
• Establishing diversity in cultural background and experience as key criteria in hiring and for work assignments.

Honestly we’re not crazy about these suggestions since we don’t understand how some of these would be implemented. All the firms require diversity training already so is the suggestion to require super-diversity training? And “identify the best and brightest”. Don’t the firms already claim to do this?
Since you all are on the front lines discuss – in the comments – your firm’s diversity initiatives and whether you think they are actually productive or its simply more of your firm’s sorry attempt to disinform about their lack of diversity. Is it the culture among the firms or are there other factors keeping these firms from improving on diversity?