Leadership / Management

Hurdles remain on road to diversity

HandshakeIt's been 50 years since Benjamin King became the first African-American CPA in Maryland. In the years that followed, he continued to break new ground as part of a distinguished career. He was the first African-American to be appointed to Maryland's State Board of Public Accountancy, founded the Baltimore Metropolitan Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants in 1973, and in 1957 founded King, King & Associates, which has employed scores of black accountants throughout the years.

More than two years after King's death in 2005, however, blacks make up only 3 percent of all CPAs nationwide, according to the AICPA. Beyond that, firms are facing the very real prospect that many of their black CPAs won't stay on the job, according to a recent report.

But efforts are under way to improve the situation. Indeed, diversity in the profession is among the issues that top the AICPA's most recent agenda and the topic of a recent promotional video that examines the influence African-American CPAs have had on the profession.

It's also the focus of a new initiative by the National Association of Black Accountants and the Howard University School of Business's Center for Accounting Education. They've launched a program called "CPA Bound" that is designed to increase the number of black CPAs.

"NABA and Howard University want to address the barriers to CPA certification and educate more minority accountants about the importance of obtaining the certification," according to this WebCPA article. "At NABA’s annual convention in June, the group convened a summit to explore the issues that contribute to the small number of black CPAs."

What else should be done to promote a more diverse CPA profession?


Bill Sheridan