Death, Taxes, and Diversity

Jun 13, 2008
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

While historically devoid of much diversity, the tax profession is starting to change.

Tony Santiago, who recently launched the niche site, says he started this site to change the perception of an industry dominated by white males.

“As a recruiting firm and industry resource, we saw a lack of diversity particularly among minorities in the tax profession, as well as a lack of women in senior leadership roles,” says Santiago.

“While individual companies have developed certain initiatives, no one has stepped up to create a comprehensive plan encompassing the entire tax profession,” he says.

The site has job openings, forums, case studies, and video commentary from successful minority tax professionals.

Santiago says he has hopes of setting up scholarships and providing mentors to those who are interested in the profession.

Microsoft must have heard Santiago’s pleas, because just last week the company pledged $1 million to the National Association of Black Accountants.

Microsoft says this gift — a mix of cash and software over the next three years — can help to build a pipeline of African-American talent in the accounting and finance professions.

Microsoft is already getting started in its own backyard, sponsoring a portion of the Seattle-area NABA chapter’s scholarship fund and general fund, and its accounting career awareness program designed to entice high school students to enter the profession.

This couldn’t come at a better time. Santiago says he recently surveyed U.S. tax professionals, and 68% think racial diversity at the senior executive level is below average or poor. Nearly half say the availability of support systems to promote diversity among tax professionals is below average or poor.

Real Tips for Real Diversity

Employment attorney Natalie Holder-Winfield recently wrote Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce, and in an interview with the New York Times, she questions the steps companies are taking to actively fill jobs with diverse workers.

She suggests finding better ways, “for example, interviewing at historically black colleges and universities, tapping into women’s networks at the colleges where you are trying to interview, or connecting with professional and trade organizations that represented the underrepresented. Then I’d ask if you’re aware of your company’s reputation when it comes to hiring and promoting and people of different backgrounds — maybe you should be looking at blog posts by disgruntled employees or company rankings within publications that cater to diverse audiences.”

Where the CPAs Are 2008

Another study, this one by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and titled “2008 Trends in the Survey of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits,” shows African-Americans account for 8% of all newly hired CPAs.

The survey also asked, “Is the number of experienced recruits hired by your firm likely to be higher, lower or the same as the previous year?” and here are the results:

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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