During the Accounting Diversity Pipeline Project's recent "Roundtable on Building a Sustainable Diverse Pipeline of Accounting Professionals for the 21st Century" last week in Williamsburg, Va., PCAOB board member Jeanette Franzel reiterated that building a diverse talent pool is "critically important" to the profession's future.

In her speech, entitled "Building the Pipeline of Diverse Accounting Professionals,"Franzel pointed out statistical woes in accounting diversity - namely, African Americans and Latinos only comprising 4 and 6 percent of new hires at public accounting firms in 2011, respectively. 

"Given the important role of the accounting profession to our markets and our society, it is critically important for the profession to attract and retain a diverse pool of talented candidates," Franzel said in her speech. "Increasing diversity will enrich and strengthen the human capital pool in the profession and enhance teams' perspectives, which is critical for effective problem-solving and innovation."

Franzel also commended Linda Espahbodi, the founder and organizer of theAccounting Diversity Pipeline Project. Part of Espahbodi's Pipeline Project is "the development of a community college bridge course and 'soft skills enrichment' program to help qualified candidates transition to a four-year accounting program and ultimately to CPA certification" in order to attract a greater talent pool.

"Clearly the accounting profession has much work to do to improve its track record in attracting and retaining minorities," Franzel concluded. "Making progress will require that all stakeholders work together in a concerted, coordinated, and constructive manner."

For the full speech, head to PCAOB's sitehere.