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You Can Tell the AICPA Is Getting Serious About Diversity Because It Formed a Commission

Leaders in the public accounting profession love to proclaim the industry's commitment to diversity. Ask any Big 4 CEO out there – they care about diversity, like, A LOT. "It may be the most important thing to the future of the profession," they might say. Despite the efforts and achievements to be the diversiest career around, the numbers aren't really shaking out:  

According to the American Institute of CPAs' 2011 Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits, minority hiring in the profession has seen slight improvements, but overall stagnation. From 2008 to 2010, total minority hiring rose from 22 percent to 25 percent. Broken down by ethnicity, Hispanic hiring increased from 4 percent to 7 percent of total hires over the two-year span; Black/African-American hires stayed steady at 4 percent; Asian/Pacific Islander hires also remained fixed, at 12 percent; and American Indian/Alaskan Native hires fell from 2 percent to zero. Meanwhile, females, who in 2008 had a slight edge on the male hires, found an even gender split in 2010.

Okay, so recruitment isn't going so swell, what about retaining and promoting the minorities and women that do make it into the business?

Those numbers […] are dire. The Howard University School of Business Center for Accounting Education's February 2010 study, Retaining African-Americans in the Accounting Profession: A Success Model, reported that only 1 percent of public accounting partners are African-American, and only 3 percent of chief financial officers at Fortune 500 companies are minorities. While women comprise half of the profession's workforce, they hold 21 percent of its partner positions, according to the AICPA's 2011 Trends report.

Dire. Dire indeed. Well, since no one in the accounting profession seems to have any bright ideas for fixing the vanilla sausage fest, there's only one thing left to do. Yep! Establish a commission:

The Institute recently established the National Commission on Diversity & Inclusion—a group of representatives from minority professional advocacy groups, CPA firms, and state CPA societies as well as leaders from business and industry, government, and education—to promote diversity within the accounting profession. The formation of the group reflects the AICPA’s renewed focus on diversity within the profession and the need to increase the retention and advancement of underrepresented minorities to better reflect the clients and communities that CPAs serve.
Coming up, hollow mission statements and immeasurable goals. Next stop, diversity!