Tag Archives: minorities in accounting

Outsmart the Enemy in the Talent War

I think it’s a little distasteful when people refer to hiring practices as a talent war, but the more I learn about accounting firm recruitment, I understand the graphic metaphor. The stakes are high and the talent pool is small. Big 4 firms have recruiting staff that blanket the country in search of the best. They offer experience and salaries that most regional and local firms can’t match, which leaves the smaller organizations at a distinct disadvantage.

But one obstacle all firms face, including the Big Four, is diversity recruitment.

According to the AICPA’s 2011 Trends Report, minorities represent 21 percent of the accounting profession.

AICPAMTR2011When PICPA’s Diversity Committee released Increasing Talent, Clients, and Revenue at Your Organization, it presented the business case and a toolkit for diversity. The “Building the Talent Pool—Recruitment and Retention” section of the toolkit addresses establishing a presence on campus, by partnering with colleges and universities. No brainer, right? Most firms have been doing this for years. But I propose that regional and local firms go a step further, yet closer to home: community college.

I know what you’re thinking—you want quality hires, not underachievers. When I was choosing a college, the stereotype was that community college was for students who weren’t academically gifted or motivated. I’m not so sure that’s the case any longer—or if it ever was. With the current economy and the increasing costs of higher education, many students are opting for community college for core courses with a plan to transfer to a four year institution to complete their degree.

Community colleges offer accessible, affordable, workforce development, and career and skill training opportunities. Community colleges create pathways to bachelor’s degrees for thousands of students unable to afford four full years of university tuition.

Pennsylvania has 14 community colleges. Thirteen of those institutions offer accounting programs. According to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), “Community colleges provide access to higher education for nearly half of all minority undergraduate students and more than 40 percent of undergraduate students living in poverty.” In Pennsylvania, nearly 30 percent of enrolled students are minorities.

Building relationships with community colleges can give accounting firms an alternate route to uncovering talent. The manufacturing and health care industries are already taking advantage of this talent by partnering with community colleges to develop specialized training. Accounting firms can benefit in a number of ways:

  • Firm staff can serve as adjunct accounting professors and talent scouts.
  • Firm staff can work with counselors to establish job fairs, interviews, internships, and other career support opportunities.
  • Firm staff can mentor students enrolled in accounting programs.
  • Firms can provide financial support and incentives to assist the highest achievers in their transfer to another institution for a BA or MA.

Community colleges make education affordable for students who would otherwise miss out. Make sure you don’t miss out on their talent. Include community colleges in your recruitment plan.

PA Community Colleges with Accounting Programs
Community College of Allegheny County
Montgomery County Community College
Bucks County Community College
Northampton County Area Community College
Butler County Community College
Community College of Philadelphia
Delaware County Community College
Reading Area Community College
Harrisburg Area Community College
Westmoreland County Community College
Lehigh Carbon Community College
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College
Luzerne County Community College

Archie Bunker, Diversity Champion

I borrowed this headline from the editor of Diversity Executive magazine. It caught my eye, and I’m sure it caught yours. Anyone who’s ever watched an episode of All in the Family knows that Archie Bunker was anything but inclusive.

In her “From the Editor” column in Diversity Executive, Kelley Whitney writes, “Archie Bunker was unashamedly racist. He had strong opinions and ideas about how things should be and what would happen to the world if his views weren’t implemented. Of course, he was full of it. But he was funny, he was honest and he was unashamed to express thoughts that were outside the norm…Archie’s living room and that ragged recliner he was always sitting in were like a free forum. That comfortable room could be a stand-in for the type of culture that diversity-savvy organizations try to build, sans misogyny and racism, of course.”

PICPA’s Diversity Committee knew they were tackling an uncomfortable and challenging topic when they set out to research and write a paper on the business imperative for minority hiring and the strategies that can be used for minority recruiting and retention.  These discussions may make some feel uncomfortable, but to progress, we must be honest about the past and present.

With contributions from Frank Ross, CPA, and Allyson Clarke, CPA, both of Howard University’s Center for Accounting Education, Mike Gelb of Gelb Strategies,  and Dr. Hubert Glover, CPA, of Drexel University, the Diversity Committee is proud to release:

Increasing Talent, Clients, and Revenue at Your Organization
The Business Case and Toolkit for DiversityImage

Here are a some highlights:

  • By 2050, minorities will become the majority of the U.S. population.
  • There were 5.8 million minority-owned businesses in 2007—an increase of 45.6 percent from 2002.
  • The growing number of minority business owners represents a significant opportunity for accounting firms that appreciate and reflect the potential client’s value.
  • Competence and offerings being equal, minority-owned businesses will likely choose to do business with a provider that embraces diversity.
  • Accounting firms can better market to prospects and understand and serve their clients when there is a shared value of diversity.

Ideally, you’ll read the paper in its entirety. At the very least, take a look at the table of contents and flip around. The toolkit is especially helpful. Consider the arguments, review the statistics, and challenge yourself to do something different. Share a copy with senior management and human resources at your organization. If your team is already on the right track, forward the paper along to a friend or colleague. Awareness is half the battle.

In his article “Why Diversity—Why Now?” Reggie Butler, CPA, a partner at PwC says it best.  Organizations that dismiss or delay diversity “may find themselves unable to attract and retain the kinds of customers, employees, and business partners that constitute our changing world.”

You can’t afford to be left behind.