Educator Calls for Greater Diversity in Accounting

A Howard University professor argues there should be an increased commitment to diversity in the accounting profession.

Frank K. Ross, director of the Howard University Center for Accounting Education, called for increased efforts at recruitment, retention and leadership development, in a new position paper, “Staying the Course on Diversity: Making a Commitment to Build a Stronger Accounting Profession.” Ross noted that despite four decades of effort and significant progress, accounting still trails other professions, and many large businesses, in minority representation. According to the AICPA’s most recent study, minorities currently hold only 5 percent of partnership positions at the largest firms, and only one percent of partners are African-American.

One reason for this, many scholars and practitioners believe, is that although institutional barriers have fallen, minorities continue to face subtle, but real, career barriers.
Professor Ross, who served at a Big Four firm for nearly 40 years, offers a number of steps the profession must take, including:

• Making diversity an integral part of the corporate culture – building it into the DNA of the organization;
• Developing special training for employees at all levels to help them become more sensitive to cultural differences and more aware of diverse styles of working;
• Identifying the best and brightest from their minority workforce and singling them out for
focused support at all times, including downturns; and,
• Establishing diversity in cultural background and experience as key criteria in hiring and for work assignments.

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