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IMA and CALCPA report reveals diversity gap in US accounting professions

The Diversifying U.S. Accounting Talent: A Critical Imperative to Achieve Transformational Outcomes research study examined three demographic focus areas: race and ethnicity, gender, and LGBTQIA orientation

Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, (CALCPA) has revealed a significant diversity gap in the U.S. accounting profession.

The Diversifying U.S. Accounting Talent: A Critical Imperative to Achieve Transformational Outcomes research study examined three demographic focus areas: race and ethnicity, gender, and LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) orientation.

The results were gathered from an online survey of over 3,000 current and former U.S. accounting and finance professionals and interviews of nearly 60 accounting, human resources, and diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) practitioners and academics.

The study found that African Americans make up 8.5% of the profession but only 1% of partners in the U.S. CPA firms and 1.5% of CFOs of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies. The survey revealed diverse talent believes they aren’t advancing in the profession because of a lack of equity and inclusion.

The study found that 43% to 55% of respondents from groups underrepresented at senior levels left their employers due to a perceived lack of equitable treatment, and at least 30% have left because of a lack of inclusion.

The lack of DEI poses risks to the success of the profession’s transformation currently underway. As many as 18% of the respondents from diverse demographic groups left the profession altogether due to these factors.

Jeff Thomson, president and CEO, IMA, said: “Although our research highlights the stark reality facing the profession today, it also presents a great opportunity,” said “Members of our profession are telling us that the only way to overcome today’s DEI challenges is to collaborate to enact meaningful change, and collective action needs to be taken now.”

The study concluded that for the profession to continue to grow and succeed with a “robust talent pipeline”, actions to address DEI issues need to be taken imminently.

Anthony Pugliese, president and CEO, CALCPA, said: “The diversity gap between senior leadership and the broader accounting profession is a huge wake-up call that this needs to be fixed through real solutions,”

“More diverse leaders are needed to connect people of all backgrounds to the profession and to serve as role models so we can retain and develop the next generation of talent.”

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