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Latest Illinois CPA Society News
Nov 10, 2022
4 Min Read REGISTER NOW The relative absence of diverse and inclusive representation in many CPA firms presents a major obstacle to success for young college students from minority backgrounds, according to a new report. The report , released Thursday by the Illinois CPA Society and its charitable partner, focuses on the firsthand experiences of alumni of the Mary T. Washington Wylie Internship Preparation Program, which helps Black and other racial and ethnic minority college students achieve success in securing their first accounting internships and/or full-time positions and pursuing the CPA credential. The CPA profession's lack of diversity was cited as the most prevalent barrier to success in a survey of the program's alumni, followed by lack of inclusiveness. "Environment not diverse," which referred to diverse representation among leadership and peers alike, was the most prevalent barrier to success cited by alumni (58%), followed in second place by "environment not inclusive" (36%). Approximately 18% of the survey respondents cited "discrimination and microaggressions" and a "general lack of equity compared to other entry-level professionals" as prevalent barriers. The report comes as the accounting profession has made efforts to broaden the diversity at firms and companies and attract more students to the profession. The Illinois CPA Society has been one of the most prominent state societies working on these efforts. "Looking at these challenges combined, we believe that the lack of diverse representation and welcoming environments— if left unaddressed—will continue to hinder meaningful change in the profession's demographics, perpetuating the challenge of attracting, retaining and advancing greater numbers of diverse talent," said the report. Students feel handicapped by their backgrounds, and about 49% of the MTWW IPP alumni indicated that "past experiences did not adequately prepare you or somewhat adequately prepared you for working in a professional environment." In addition, 48% of the respondents felt their "education did not adequately prepare you or somewhat adequately prepared you for your work." Nearly half the survey respondents cited knowledge and experience gaps as the reasons they attributed for not feeling prepared for success in their jobs when they first entered the profession. Students also believe they're receiving inadequate feedback and development. Nearly 31% of the MTWW IPP alumni cited "mentorship opportunities not available or inadequate for your professional needs" as being a prevalent barrier experienced — making it the third most cited challenge faced. That was followed by "lack of timely, relevant, or direct feedback on performance" being cited by nearly 24% of survey respondents. "On-the-job training opportunities not provided or inadequate for your professional needs" was also seen as a prevalent barrier experienced by alumni of the program. "The goal of our research was to learn more about what they've experienced since transitioning into the workplace to help identify opportunities to better foster their success," stated Kari L. Natale, senior director of the CPAEFI, who led the research. "While our findings aren't necessarily reflective of all diverse individuals' experiences, or even those of all MTWW IPP alumni, the research did uncover and bring to light some common challenges that we need to discuss if we want to ensure everyone has a fair chance at success in this profession." The report includes anecdotes about the experiences of discrimination that students encountered while interning at firms. "It's our hope that the survey findings — along with the unique, eye-opening, and sometimes troubling stories — detailed in the full special feature will inspire those in positions to make change to join us in meaningfully advancing DEI across the accounting profession," said ICPAS president and CEO Todd Shapiro in a statement. "The insight gained from this research can help guide us toward having open, honest conversations. about how we can overcome any systemic issues in the profession and come together to achieve true diversity, equity and inclusion within it." Philip Date - Fotolia During interviews with alumni of the program, some said they felt that diversity and inclusion was essentially "just a number." Expressing a perception shared by many, one alumni said that DEI to employers meant "just having different bodies in the office that are different colors." When it came to who was responsible for increasing the number of diverse individuals in the profession, the researchers heard that task was often falling on the diverse individuals who happened to be within an organization. "I'm their poster board for recruiting," said one interviewee. "As a Black individual, I was leaned on quite heavily to support and create diversity and inclusion initiatives in addition to the requirements of my job," said another. "There was very little recognition of the effort those initiatives required or the time they took away from my everyday work."
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When was Illinois CPA Society founded?
Illinois CPA Society was founded in 1903.
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Illinois CPA Society's headquarters is located at 550 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago.
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