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State Board Report

November 2015

Every region of the United States is in the midst of an unprecedented demographic change and the impact will be felt by the accountancy profession as well as the world market, Dr. James H. Johnson, Jr., told NASBA’s 108th Annual Meeting in Dana Point, CA. Representatives from 50 Boards of Accountancy, including 120 Board members in the total attendance of 438, participated in the October 25-28, 2015 meeting, with the theme of "Embracing the Future." As part of that theme, Chair Walter C. Davenport told all they "need to have that uncomfortable conversation" about diversity.

Keynote speaker James Johnson, Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina’s Business School, outlined six "disruptive trends" in the U.S.:

  1. Large growth of population in the South;
  2. Growth in non-white population;
  3. Increase in inter-marriage;
  4. Baby boomers reaching retirement age;
  5. More women obtaining degrees in higher education and participating in the work force; and
  6. More children living in households headed by grandparents.


There is enormous disparity in education within the U.S. population and unemployment among white collar workers is likely to last longer than it does for other workers, Dr. Johnson noted. He observed the U.S. is not having "an honest discussion of illegal immigration." He pointed to the number of "non-immigrants" from all over the world, who come to the United States on visas and then overstay those visas. Dr. Johnson reported there are 45,000,000 people in the United States now who are foreign born, and an estimated 11,500,000 who are unauthorized immigrants.

The accounting profession needs to manage transition "from the graying to the browning of America," Dr. Johnson advised. There will be competition in a global economy calling for successful recruitment from a diverse population.

A panel moderated by Alfonzo Alexander, President of the NASBA Center for the Public Trust, highlighted what accounting bodies are doing to harness diversity. Susan M. Cosper, chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s diversity program, said they are determining what the FASB’s part should be in furthering inclusion in the profession. They are developing an internal action plan that will expand their recruiting network, implement staff sensitivity programs and provide coaching and mentoring. The FASB is reaching out to the National Association of Black Accountants and the large CPA firms for suggestions.

The American Institute of CPAs established the National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion three years ago. Kim Drumgo, the AICPA’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, explained the AICPA is seeking to have a seamless handoff from the CPA pipeline into the profession. They have increased scholarships, increased communications and awareness in diverse communities, supported school-based programs for students pursuing accounting and initiated an advertising campaign to retain licensees with the slogan: "I am present and accounted for."

The Ph.D. Project, founded in 1994, has seen its efforts quadruple the number of minority professors, Bernard J. Milano reported. Every minority doctoral student in an AACSB program is a member of the Ph.D. Project, explained Mr. Milano, who is the Project’s president. The goal is not to get Ph.Ds., but to get professors, and 97 percent of those involved in the Ph.D. Project have remained to teach in the universities. NASBA is the newest sponsor of the Ph.D. Project.

Minority students have to be encouraged to become CPAs while still in high school, NASBA Diversity Committee Chair Tyrone Dickerson stated. Teachers need to provide the encouragement to seek the CPA designation, as many times minority students do not have the benefit of family members being in business. Promoting diversity among NASBA leadership, volunteers and the Boards is now part of NASBA’s strategic plan, Mr. Dickerson pointed out. He noted that change to bring more diversity into the profession has been slow, but cautioned the State Boards not to become complacent.

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