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Discover Tax, Discover Thyself

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January 7, 2010

The fourth year of Ernst & Young’s Discover Tax Leadership Conference is going strong as 102 minority students from all over the country have gathered here in New York (braving the cold) to learn about tax – and themselves.

Kicking off yesterday at the Westin Hotel in Times Square, Beyonce blared in one of the conference rooms as students were ushered in for a two-hour introduction to their three day program. Sixty-three schools were represented here and the student make up – 70 percent sophomores and 30 percent juniors – illustrated just what E&Y is trying to do – get them informed and engaged early.

Students heard from E&Y staff – Dan Black, Americas director of campus recruiting, Nancy Altobello, Americas vice chair, people and Ken Bouyer, Americas director of inclusiveness recruiting.

Each brought their own spin of describing the firm’s culture and each talked about the importance of being yourself (yes, even in a corporate environment) and authenticity.
The Discover Tax program has helped E&Y increase the number of minority campus hires for its tax practice as African American and Hispanic full-time campus hires increased by six percentage points since the program started in 2007. Minority partners and staff now represent 30 percent of the firm’s total U.S. employee population – more than double the representation a decade ago.

Buoyer, who has been with E&Y for 19 years said his current position has been the best, bar none. Originally from Queens, Buoyer came on the stage with Jay-Z pumping in the background and told a story about being a peacock among a flock of penguins as a way to illustrate how he felt being an African-American first starting out at the firm.

“That experience was not good,” he said. “But very quickly, some very key people in the firm said, ‘look, we brought you here to be you.’”

He described diversity as a mix of people and inclusiveness as being how that mix is leveraged.

“I think we should be known as the great salad instead of the melting pot,” he said of the famous saying describing the United States. “It retains its substance"

Last year 70 percent of the conference’s participants received internship offers and 88 percent of those students accepted. Within a few weeks of the conference, all participants will be granted a second interview (the first was during the program’s application process) with local recruiters.

In conjunction with the Discover Tax conference, E&Y is also hosting its second annual Campus Diversity and Inclusiveness Roundtable for faculty to discuss best practices regarding diversity issues facing today’s undergraduate business programs. Topics at the roundtable will include institutional commitment and accountability, student recruitment and development, faculty recruitment and development, and curriculum best practices.

For more information on Discover Tax, visit http://www.ey.com/us/discovertax.

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