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Do You Know Vasquez’s Story? Cause You Should

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October 9, 2009

“If you want to win, you have to get up early.”

It’s good advice, especially considering who it’s coming from.

Gilbert Vasquez, founder of Vasquez & Co., California’s oldest and largest Hispanic-owned accounting firm was interviewed by Rob Kuznia at HispanicBusiness.com and talked about his journey as a young Hispanic man from Los Angeles starting his own accounting practice with a loan of $2,500. He would put in 80-hour work weeks.

That was 40 years ago, when he was 30. A time when large accounting firms wouldn’t hire people with ethnic surnames, according to Vasquez. “If you were Latino, Asian, African American, the answer was ‘no,’” he said.

Today, the firm, which provides audit, tax preparations, litigation support and other accounting services for organizations such as non-profits, municipalities and school districts, employs 50 people. Through the decades, the firm has employed approximately 1,000 people and landed major clients such as the county of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the city of Norfolk, Calif.

The article digs deeper into some of the hardship and discrimination Vasquez faced, such as when he founded the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting. The move apparently ticked off the American Institute of CPAs so much so that it publicly referred to the new organization as a “renegade” and an “outlaw.”

Ouch.

Wonder what other nuggets of similar history the AICPA has buried.

But that’s beside the point.

The article is great because it’s a honest account and brings to light the reality that the struggle is very real, very old and still going strong, even though strides have been made.

“When you look at upper-level positions, there are improvements,” Vasquez said of diversity in firms today. “But still very, very small. The opportunity is not that great.”

To read the complete story, go here.

Accounting Tomorrow loves hearing stories such as these. Do you have one to tell? Help us keep it real. Contact us at tomorrow@sourcemedia.com.

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