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State Board Report

April 2015

Bringing more minority group members into the CPA ranks has been a goal of the AICPA since 1969, but it is now clear that this goal has a strong business case based on demographics, the business imperative and human capital, Ralph A. Thomas, CEO of the New Jersey Society of CPAs, explained to the Executive Directors Conference. While good representation of both genders has been achieved in the profession, diversity in color has not happened. Mr. Thomas pointed out that the buying power of minority groups is growing faster than the buying power of Caucasians, and firms are being challenged to diversify their staffs, particularly if they do government work.

Mr. Thomas observed that the needle has moved slowly on increasing diversity, with minority group members only representing 2.5 percent of the profession. To increase diversity in the profession, the AICPA established its National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion (NCDI) that has released the "Recruitment and Retention Toolkit: A Journey Toward A More Inclusive Workforce," a guide for CPA firms and companies. In addition, they are producing a monthly newsletter Inclusion Solutions, which is free of charge to everyone. The NCDI has established a "Pipeline Project" to increase the number of underrepresented minorities entering the accounting profession.

NASBA has set as one of its objectives to: "Increase diversity of NASBA’s leadership and volunteer base," Ed Barnicott, NASBA Vice President – Strategic Planning and Program Management, told the Conference. He reported NASBA’s Diversity Committee, chaired by Tyrone E. Dickerson (VA), is preparing letters to be sent to the State Governors encouraging them to mix skills and ethnic and gender diversity when making their appointments to the State Accountancy Boards. The letters will first be sent to the Boards’ Executive Directors to ensure they will not be problematic in their states. Mr. Barnicott called on the Executive Directors to: Educate their CPAs on the benefits of State Board service; Advocate for diversity and inclusion on the State Board to bring different thinking into the Boards’ deliberations; Encourage Board members to serve on NASBA committees. He urged the Executive Directors to become engaged in this effort.

Mr. Thomas gave the meeting’s attendees homework: Have a conversation about race with someone of a different race. "Get out of your comfort zone," he said.

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