Preliminary results of a recent member survey of the National Association of Black Accountants show that race and perception still impact the careers of people of color working in the accounting industry.

Although the full assessment of the survey won't be completed until the spring, 427 NABA members have submitted responses so far. Within that group, 42 percent work in public accounting, 38 percent in corporate and 20 percent in the government or nonprofit sectors.

Preliminary findings show:

  • Nearly 60 percent of respondents believe that because of their race, they have not always received unbiased/objective evaluations from their supervisors.
  • More than half of the respondents believe that mistakes they might make in the workplace have a direct affect on the perception/evaluations of other members of their racial group.
  • Respondents split evenly down the middle (49 percent) when asked if non-minority counterparts with less technical competence or experience were given higher-profile or more challenging job assignments.
  • More than 60 percent of respondents agreed that they don't feel any obligation to remain with their current employer.

The survey, "The Professional Experience: The NABA Survey" was conducted by Howard University's Center for Accounting Education in Washington, which is supported by the association. Frank K. Ross, a director of Howard's accounting program and a founding member and past president of NABA, distributed the survey to NABA members-at-large in December 2005.The survey is just one in a series of research studies planned by the association to identify why more African-Americans aren't succeeding in the accounting profession and what can be done to create programs that will assist them in corporate America."In spite of diversity programs initiated by many of the nation's top employers, there is still disparity amongst people of color in the accounting and finance areas with regard to their ability to advance with their employers," said Ross, in a statement. "With the continuation of our research, we hope to provide recommendations for making positive changes to lower attrition and improve advancement for the African-American accounting professional in all areas of business."

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