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NextGen Magazine


Poll: About Half View Accounting Profession as Equitable Overall

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Feb 22, 2021
A recent poll has found that the question of whether the CPA profession is equitable and inclusive is split roughly 50-50 overall, although the percentage is even lower among more diverse accountants. The study, from CalCPA and the Institute of Management Accountants, drew from a survey of 3,136 current and former accounting professionals and academicians in the United States, as well as individual and group interviews conducted with 57 current and former accounting professionals, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and human resources professionals, and academicians across the United States.

The survey found that, overall, 48 believe the profession is equitable and 50 percent believe the profession is inclusive. Broken down, two-thirds of non-Hispanic, white, non-LGBTQIA males view the profession as equitable and inclusive, while about half of LGBTQIA respondents and, on average, one-third or fewer of female, nonwhite, Hispanic, and Latino respondents share this view.

The study also found that many these accountants tend not to stay in organizations where they feel they are not being treated fairly due factors outside their control: 43 percent to 55 percent of female, nonwhite, Hispanic, Latino, and LGBTQIA respondents have left a company due to a perceived lack of equitable treatment. A smaller, but still sizeable, proportion have left the profession entirely due to such factors: almost one in five LGBTQIA respondents and nearly one in 10 female and racially or ethnically diverse respondents.

Specific incidents include discovering that persons with comparable or lower-level jobs, education, or experience, but different demographic backgrounds, were receiving better compensation; failing to get promoted to a position for which they felt qualified; feeling unsafe to contribute ideas that are different from those of others; being yelled at or demeaned by a colleague, supervisor, or leader; and hearing derogatory comments or jokes about people like them.

The study said that a lack of DEI directly affects the talent pipeline and the public’s trust in the profession’s ability to timely adapt to business changes. These pipeline issues, in turn, can serve to erode the long-term future of the U.S. accounting profession, which will be shaped by the ability of existing talent to effectively implement the transformation underway and the ability of the next generation of professionals to sustainably carry the profession’s transformational efforts forward.

Increasingly, it is the case across the economy that younger people not only look for DEI practices in the companies they think of working for, but that they also will not work for a company with a poor record on these matters.