The accounting profession has long been known for its slow pace of change. With less than 1 percent of all CPAs coming from the black community, it’s time for change.

By far the most underrepresented group in this lucrative career path, it is creating a continued challenge for the reputation of the accounting profession and the sustainability of black-owned businesses—especially in the wake of the pandemic.

In fact, a lack of black representation in the CPA community may have been partially to blame for the lack of PPP funding received by black-owned businesses. With little representation in the drafting of PPP bills and even less in accounting firms who may have presented this as an option to clients, fewer companies took advantage of the program—something that will have lasting effects on local communities well beyond the end of lockdowns.

How can we as controllers encourage more black finance leadership? How can we bring more black voices to the accounting profession as a whole? How can we change the conversation to help create a better future for black and brown people looking toward an accounting profession?

A recent Accounting Today interview discussed one organization’s journey to go beyond traditional representation—especially in the CPA field. Speaking with Shannon Nash, chair of the newly formed National Society of Black CPAs, Nash discussed why now is the most important moment for this organization and why it’s so important to create representation:

“Many people had been thinking about the problem with the low number of Black CPAs in the profession,” Nash told Accounting Today. “In the midst of this national pandemic and under the backdrop of a social justice movement, it was time for action.”

“We want to diversify the profession and increase the number of Black CPAs,” Nash said. “That is our mission. We also discovered that we have a large number of Black CPA firms who needed support and a place to network and safely ask questions about technical or entrepreneurial issues they run across. We wanted to establish that support network.”

Inspired by the disparities presented by the first wave of funding received in the first wave of the COVID-19 stimulus bill, the NSBCPA was created to help increase the number of Black CPAs by providing the most relevant knowledge, resources, and advocacy; and to promote cultural competence, diversity, and inclusion within the profession.

From working to build a better pipeline of black accounting students to helping encourage more representation, this young organization is doing incredible work to help make accounting more welcoming.

“To attract and retain more Black CPAs, we must build a pipeline that begins in middle school and high school and continues through,” she said.” We need to plant the seed that accounting is a viable, respectable, necessary and relevant profession. … Our students see professional athletes, doctors, engineers and attorneys as being in some of the highest paid professions. We need to show them that Black CPAs are just as successful.

Learn more about this organization by checking out their website, applying to the NSBCPA, and liking their Facebook Page.

Empowering Black Leadership in the Boardroom and the Back Office: Watch Our On-Demand Webcast

From the CPA profession to the C-Suite, increasing representation for black voices is critical to the long-term success of firms. That’s why we’re excited to bring on finance leaders for an upcoming webinar on bridging the gap.

 “The Black C-Suite: Challenges and Opportunities,” will feature three black executives that will share experiences in their journey to the C-Suite, while the panel will discuss ideas and solutions for improving representation.

Panelists include Kofi Bruce, CFO of General Mills, and Jerry Raphael, CFO of Stack Overflow. Brandt Kucharski, Chief Accounting Officer at Grubhub, and Sarah Harris, General Counsel and Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee at Armanino, a Top 25 CPA firm, will moderate the discussion and field questions during the webcast.

Click here to watch now.

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