Report: accounting firms need more diverse workforce

Even when accounting firms hire them, many women and minorities drop out because of lack of support that prevents accomplishment and advancement, according to a new report by the American Society of Women Accountants.

The ASWA 2012 Special Report on Diversity in the Accounting and Finance Fields says that shifting demographics in the U.S. demonstrate the need for accounting and finance firms to hire and retain a more diverse staff.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that employment of accountants and auditors will grow faster than any other occupation through 2014.

The ASWA examined gender and racial diversity in senior positions of accounting and finance firms and explores how a homogeneous workforce becomes a liability, according to the report.

“ASWA is troubled by the lack of diversity at the top of the profession,” said Monika Miles, ASWA national president. “It has been proven that firms that invest in diversity – and have women and minorities in leadership professions – do better on any number of key business metrics, including client retention, decision-making and overall profitability.”

Highlights of the 2012 ASWA report:

  • Shifting demographics in the U.S. demonstrate the need for accounting and finance firms to hire and retain a more diverse workforce.
  • Diversity breeds innovation when business leaders are open to new ideas, give employees room to grow and are willing to change.
  • A diverse workforce makes a strong statement to potential clients that can give a company a marketing advantage.
  • Diversity initiatives need to be fully integrated into corporate culture to be successful.

Even with diversity initiatives in place in many companies, large percentages of women and minorities feel they do not receive the necessary opportunities to advance, the report said.

ASWA wants to strengthen its partnerships and alliances, as well as bolster diversity initiatives in order to build a more diverse membership, Miles said.