Jan 18, 2016

Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Diversity

Julius GreenBy Guest Blogger Julius Green, CPA, JD, 2015-2016 PICPA President

Diversity continues to be top of mind for business and accounting leaders across the country. In 2011, the PICPA released Increasing Talent, Clients, and Revenue at Your Organization to highlight the need for diversity in accounting and suggest strategies to change the trend. Since then, some firms have conducted roundtable discussions, challenged HR professionals to find qualified diverse candidates, and renewed commitments to foster a diverse environment.

So, how have we done? What progress has been made across our industry? Unfortunately the answer remains, not much. Certainly not enough.

According to the AICPA, minorities represent only one in six among professional staff in accounting firms nationwide. Eighty-eight percent of CPAs on staff are white.

This becomes more unsettling when you look at the country’s changing demographics:

Diversity in accounting is critically important. It allows firms to compete in the ever-changing business-owner demographic. It enables us to expand our perspectives by maximizing the unique insight of each individual. This is far easier to accomplish when you work with employees from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.

Throughout my career, this has held true time and time again. Clients seem to agree as well. More are probing Baker Tilly’s commitment to diversity in business discussions.

DiversityWp_blogpicBut don’t take my word for it…

Sociologist Cedric Herring finds that companies with the “highest levels of racial diversity” earn “nearly 15 times more sales revenue on average than those with the lowest.” A 2015 McKinsey study reinforces these results, revealing that “companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry means.”

You can’t afford to ignore diversity. It is increasingly becoming a business imperative – our team members and our clients value it, and we must be prepared to deliver on it if we want to be competitive in the all-important battle for talent and profits.

How do you get it done?

Read our follow-up to the 2011 whitepaper, More Clients, More Talent, More Revenue: The Business Case and Toolkit for Diversity in Accounting which reflects the state of this discussion in 2015.

In the coming weeks, PICPA will dig deeper into the facts and share more strategies that will help you build and sustain diversity at your firm.

If you’re a leader and would like to capitalize on a tremendous business opportunity, you need to read this paper and take action.

I strongly encourage your feedback and comments below. 

Julius C. Green, a partner with Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP in Philadelphia, is practice leader of exempt organization tax services. As PICPA president he will focus on increasing member engagement and satisfaction in the organization; support development of professional education programs to help CPAs meet Pennsylvania licensing requirements; and address recruitment and retention issues, specifically as it relates to diversity in the profession.


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