Around the country, companies are making concerted efforts to diversify their workforces across physical ability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and age. But many businesses aren’t limiting their diversity efforts to simply hiring more minorities. They’re striving to change the culture, creating workplaces where all employees feel valued and safe, and everyone can compete for promotions, […]
I like the idea of blind recruiting that this WSJ story discusses. Not knowing a person’s name or alma mater forces “hiring managers [to] form opinions based only on that person’s work,” therefore reducing the likelihood of nepotism, favoritism, racism, basically any negative -ism you can think of. This results in, you guessed it “more […]
Grant Thornton’s video announcing their unlimited paid time off policy was exceptional cinema. For starters, everyone in the video looks very uncomfortable — like they weren’t sure if they were giving feedback on company policy or making a sex tape with a tax manager. It’s also clear that the people who were ambushed in the […]
The other day we mentioned the AICPA Trends report, specifically, the growing number of accounting graduates and the talent shortage at small CPA firms. Oh! And fewer people are sitting for the CPA exam, that too. If you're just joining us, hop over there to join the discussion. Today, we'll cover something that really isn't […]
If you’re like me, your eyes glaze over when firms start talking about “diversity initiatives.” Most of the time, they’re bullshit buzzword-filled discussions involving a white board and a “shout out your answers!” brainstorming session led by a white guy in a skinny tie who wouldn’t know diversity if it punched him in the windpipe. […]
So, we're working on a somewhat involved piece — which we'll debut later in the month — on diversity and socioeconomic barriers to the profession. In our research, we turned to the 2013 Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits report, which is chock-full of all kinds of […]
As we're about to learn in the following tweet, sometimes expectations don't meet with reality. Is #diversity important to you? Join our #femalemillennial study to have your say: http://t.co/83WL88ixX6 #PwC pic.twitter.com/xXQ0urM60N — PwC LLP (@PwC_LLP) January 26, 2015 The way they phrase the infographic, one might assume respondents overwhelmingly chose diversity and inclusion […]
Diversity sucks in the accounting profession. I think it sucks, and I live in Utah. You may not remember, but the black population in Utah dropped 20 percent in 2004 because Karl Malone went to play for the Lakers. Look at the chart below which compares the demographics of the United States with the demographics […]
Last night, DiversityInc handed out awards to seven U.S. companies "that showcase best practices for workplace diversity" in New York City. Predictably, EY sent their white Americas Managing Partner Steve Howe to accept theirs. "In order to earn one of our special awards, a company needs to demonstrate full commitment to diversity, starting at the […]
Oy, not this again.
A virtual cookie, anyway: PwC is well known for embracing and celebrating different viewpoints and is a leading champion for diversity. We have found that diverse perspectives improve problem solving, cultural dexterity, strategic thinking, and ultimately (because we produce a stronger product) our bottom line. The statement comes from "Different Perspectives Benefit the Bottom-line," written […]
A special program developed by employees at the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the nonprofit Diversity Awareness Partnership is teaching youngsters that careers in finance are not strictly for geeks whose work attire consists of starched white shirts and pocket protectors loaded with No. 2 pencils. The EXPLORE Career Immersion program in accounting began two […]
It doesn’t take an expert to tell us that accounting is still a world dominated by white guys. White guys who take it upon themselves to recruit other white guys to chair diversity committees so they can figure out why the profession is dominated by white guys.
The problem, says one champion of diversity, is that the cool, sexy, diverse people just aren’t attracted to accounting.
The Project 28-40 report is a study of 25,000 people (23,000 of those women) by Opportunity Now and PwC that looks at the obstacles facing professional women in the UK. The report itself is nothing groundbreaking, however it is courtesy of said report that we are given this gem: A perceptions gap between women and […]
Those of you who could not possibly care less about diversity can disregard the following. Those of you who enjoy mocking the ridiculousness of "diversity initiatives" are invited to read on: At the beginning of the year we shared that we had a lot of exciting diversity activities planned for 2014 and I am thrilled […]
I love those New Jersey CPAs but I'm pretty sure if I saw this in my mailbox, I would kill it before it lays eggs. The diversity profiles are actually a good read so please don't let the weird cover scare you off, check it out here.
It's about time some old white guy said it! Ahead of International Women's Day on Saturday, March 8, let's take a look back at comments made by a certain Big 4 Chairman last year (no cheating, now): When we talk about diversity globally, word choice can impede progress. In mature markets, people are often tired […]
I love that the ridiculousness of "gender equality" and "diversity" as trendy buzzwords to say rather than the right thing to do is summed up so perfectly in this one tweet: At @PwC_LLP, Bob Moritz shares that men are rewarded for embracing diversity and gender equality. #MAKERS2014 — MAKERS (@MAKERSwomen) February 11, 2014 Let's all […]
Ed. note: Sam Flynn is a Big 4 Senior Manager lingering around waiting to decide if he wants to be a partner. This is his story. Recently, I watched a new firm video discussing the partner admission process. The presentation included perspectives from several parties including the CEO and newly minted partners. This was a […]
This is happening right now in Minneapolis and of course the best we can do is get caught up through the Life at Deloitte Twitter account: "In order to retain top talent, an organization must create an environment where everyone can be themselves" @christie_smith2 #oesummit2013 — Life at Deloitte (@lifeatdeloitte) October 30, 2013 The quote […]
It's intriguing that when interviewed by the New York Times, PwC's Bob Moritz (a.k.a. BoMo a.k.a. Adrienne's man crush) chose to highlight the fact that he learned all about diversity when he spent time in Japan and got his ass kicked. Unless you're having a particularly slow day, you can pretty much skip this interview […]
Apparently the Life at Deloitte Twitter account has been busy tweeting other people's links to the Deloitte study we wrote about earlier this week, but of course no Going Concern love. We're going to assume this is due to our unruly comment section and not at all a reflection on our journalistic integrity or total […]
Diversity, as you all know, is critical to the success of any major company's efforts to appear as though they care about something other than making money. You might hear something like, "We celebrate diversity at our firm because it's the right thing to do, yada yada yada, but it's also good for business." Okay, […]
I guess for as sensitive as he is, Colin was just too busy writing about "man stuff" to announce this fantastic news from Plante Moran: Plante Moran, one of the nation’s largest certified public accounting and business advisory firms, was recently named by the Accounting MOVE Project as a 2013 Best Public Accounting Firm for […]
When I attended my first AICPA Council meeting in 2011, I remarked that the room seemed to be filled with the same "old white guys" that have been "leading" the profession as far back as we can all remember. I asked out loud why I seemed to be the only person under the age of […]
After a couple of interesting teasers on LGBT relations and satisfaction among women, our friends at Vault have unveiled their Accounting 50 ranking today. The results will probably annoy many of you because, yes, PwC topped the three big categories in Vault's 2014 rankings — Overall Ranking, Prestige, and Diversity.
Unfortunately, there's no indication that the culinary secrets will be shared any time soon: Representatives from Fortune 500 companies, government, non-profits and academia examined the evolution of inclusive workplaces at the recent launch of the Deloitte University (DU) Leadership Center for Inclusion. The more than 250 attendees discussed a wide range of inclusion issues including […]
Here's a sign that a board of directors resembling a Guys Night Out at the Tilted Kilt could be a problem: New research shows that firms with at least one woman director are significantly less likely to restate quarterly or annual earnings than are companies with an all-male slate of directors—40% less likely, researchers […]
Have you guys met Richard Caturano? He's the AICPA's latest chairman; a blue collar kid from one of the most racist towns in America who believes in wonderful things like diversity and the value of the CGMA. God love his spirit. Anyhoo, he wrote a piece for the AICPA blog the other day that trumpets the […]
Welcome to a special Friday edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. Since Frankenstorm might sweep a lot of us out to sea early next week, let's get in all the good advice we can before the world ends. If you're having a career emergency and still have a charge left on your phone while you're waiting […]
Leaders in the public accounting profession love to proclaim the industry's commitment to diversity. Ask any Big 4 CEO out there – they care about diversity, like, A LOT. "It may be the most important thing to the future of the profession," they might say. Despite the efforts and achievements to be the diversiest career […]
Yesterday we touched on E&Y and Deloitte's breakthrough discovery that women are underrepresented in leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies. WELL. PwC thinks its entire female workforce needs to establish some damn credibility before it's too late. Hi Daniel,Just read your post regarding Avon's CEO being ousted and Deloitte and E&Y's reaction. I wanted to share with […]
As we all know, the Big 4 are more than happy to market themselves as the melting pots of the professional services world. First in your family to go to college? Great! Not an Ivy League graduate? No problem! Completely devoid of WASPyness? Even better! With the relative success of the firms to market this inclusive culture, however, Reuters reports that the biggest challenge is convincing the parents of first-generation recruits that accounting is just as worthy of a career path as medicine or law:
Accounting has long provided a path for first-generation Americans into the professional classes. Good pay and a focus on numbers makes it an attractive career choice. Still, recruiting the children of immigrants is complex, say some Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Parents’ opinions are influential and they often don’t know the field, a problem that alternatives like medicine or the law don’t face. Once on the job, first-generation CPAs can face new challenges like decoding the relationship-driven, sometimes self-promotional American business culture.
Makes sense to me. Medicine is easy because doctors are in the life-saving business. Law is attractive because parents hope that they might become Jack McCoy or the protagonist in a John Grisham novel. But accounting? Jesus, numbers are boring, it’s not even a real profession:
When Maria Castanon Moats, PwC’s chief diversity officer, told her family that she planned to be a CPA, she remembers her parents asked “Why not be a lawyer?”
“They did not understand this accounting thing … To them, a professional was an attorney or a doctor,” said Moats, 43. Moats, who emigrated from Mexico at the age of one with her father, a migrant farmworker, said the profession appealed to her because it brought stability. High ethical standards and integrity, strong values in her family, were also important. Now, as part of the firm’s 14-member leadership team, she welcomes young recruits with a similar background. “The first generation really wants to be successful to make their parents proud. They are committed and loyal,” she said.
We’ve had the accounting vs. law debate before and we don’t to call Elie Mystal in here to explain why pursuing a career in a law is a risky proposition. The Reuters article doesn’t come out and say it but it really amounts to candidates educating their parents about the advantages to pursuing a career in accounting. Recruiters at the Big 4 can’t really say, “Clue your parents in,” so they put on aggressive marketing campaigns to tout diversity and inclusion. The students take this message back to mom and dad (along with salary ranges) and they start warming up to the idea. This way, everyone is happy. The kids get a decent job; the parents can beam about the CPA in the family. Sure, accounting isn’t justice but it beats being unemployed and doing this:
PwC UK Chairman Ian Powell would like to see more women around the office (obviously he hasn’t been to the San Francisco digs lately) but is taking this new stance slow. As in really slow.
As is, 14% of PwC’s partners are women. 14%! Trailblazers that they are, Powell has decided a target of something like 20% will be reasonable to start. Obviously something is driving the ladies away, however, as P-Dubs takes on over 400 new women a year of the 1000 new grads they hire. What’s wrong, girls, not the dream career you daydreamed it would be in college? “We take on over a thousand graduates a year and the number of women is in the high forties in terms of percentage,” Powell said.
Powell is not suggesting positive discrimination, in which women are treated like the fragile little things they are and given all sorts of breaks like months off to pop out kids, flexible work schedules to allow for time with their progeny and equal pay despite these many concessions.
While the UK considers quotas to force the profession to hire on (or is that keep) more women, Powell insists it is not just a numbers game. Funny, we thought 20% was a number? “There is a lot of debate about quotas but we don’t think that is the way forward. This is not just a numbers game.”
This begs the obvious question: if we’re pushing for “diversity” and making a huge deal out of this, aren’t we ignoring more important qualities such as skill, quality of work and talent by focusing on things like sex and race just to appear to be diverse? If a man, woman, and black transsexual all have the exact same educational background and skill, I’m totally OK with a company going for the most diverse option but we all know there is no such thing as equality. Interviewees come from all backgrounds and bring a variety of talents to the table – that is what firms need to be looking for, not high heels and African ancestors. Equality means being given equal opportunity to thrive and grow, not special favors just because one happens to lack a Y chromosome.
PricewaterhouseCoopers targets women [Telegraph]
Yesterday The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released their Corporate Equality Index for 2011. If you’re not familiar with the survey, it “assesses American workplaces on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.”
We’re happy to report that the Big 4 are perfectly gay friendly which probably surprises no one (or not?). The firms go to great lengths to be inclusive, especially in public eye and a ranking like the HRC’s is a perfect opportunity to call attention to their efforts.
This is the ninth year for the survey and its largest – with 844 companies being rated. Scores are determined based on the following criteria:
Criterion 1a Prohibits Discrimination Ba ation (15 points)
Criterion 1b Provides Diversity Training Covering Sexual Orientation (5 points)
Criterion 2a Prohibits Discrimination Based on Gender Identity or Expression (15 points)
Criterion 2b Provides Diversity Training Covering Gender Identity OR Has Supportive Gender Transition Guidelines (5 points)
Criterion 2c Offers Transgender-Inclusive Insurance Coverage for at Least One Type of Benefit (5 points)
Criterion 2c+ Offers Transgender-Inclusive Insurance Coverage, Including Surgical Procedures (4 )
Criterion 3a Offers Partner Health Insurance (15 points)
Criterion 3b Offers Partner Dental, Vision, COBRA and Dependent Coverage Benefits (5 points)
Criterion 3c Offers at Least Three Other “Soft” Benefits for Partners (5 points)
Criterion 4 Has Employer-Supported Employee Resource Group OR Firm-Wide Diversity Council (15 points) Would Support ERG if Employees Express Interest (half credit)
Criterion 5 Positively Engages the External LGBT Community (15 points)
Criterion 6 Responsible Citizenship Employers will have 15 points deducted from their score for a large-scale official or public anti-LGBT blemish on their recent records (-15 points)
Big 4 spin-off Accenture also scored a perfect 100 while Capgemini scored a 60, receiving no points for any of the #2 criteria or criterion 5. We took a quick glance through and didn’t notice any more accounting firms, although McGladrey parent H&R Block is on the list, scoring at 65, missing on criteria 2a, 2c and 5.
This seems like a pretty easy diversity win for most firms. Prohibiting discrimination is a piece of cake (enforcing it is another discussion) while providing training and benefits is simply good business. Likewise, if a company has an “employer-supported resource group” or “diversity council,” engaging the LGBT community should be a natural progression.
Where firms may get tripped up is the “Responsible Citizenship Employers” criterion. “[A] large-scale official or public anti-LGBT blemish” consists of the following:
Scores on this criterion are based on information that has come to HRC’s attention related to topics including but not limited to: undue influence by a significant shareholder calculated to undermine a business’s employment policies or practices related to its LGBT employees; directing corporate charitable contributions to organizations whose primary mission includes advocacy against LGBT equality; opposing shareholder resolutions reasonably aimed at encouraging the adoption of inclusive workplace policies; revoking inclusive LGBT policies or practices; or engaging in proven practices that are contrary to the business’s written LGBT employment policies.
While it isn’t likely that any firm would fall victim to this, law firm Foley & Lardner was dinged for representing clients that opposed gay marriage even though they provided many services to many LGBT causes.
As much as we don’t like it, bigoted, well-funded nonprofits need professional services and they pay accounting firms lots of money to provide them with services. As of now, the HRC doesn’t seem to be holding that against professional services firms but this is a divisive issue, not matter how you slice it. And until total equality is achieved, the HRC will likely keep a close eye on companies that assist groups it opposes.
SEC Plans to Hire More Women and Minorities Amidst Poor Rankings [FINS]
“At a recent panel discussion and networking event at the agency, Commissioner Luis Aguilar spoke about the need to hire ‘the best and brightest,’ while acknowledging that in the past it hasn’t done a good job of recruiting women and minorities.
In his speech, Aguilar said that as of FY 2009, 89% of the SEC’s senior officers were white, 4% African-American, 3% Hispanic and 2% Asian. Along gender lines, 67% of the officers were male and 33% were female.
Moreover, in a recent survey published by the Partnership for Public Service, the SEC fell from 11th to 24th place on a list of the ‘Best Places to Work’ rankings. With regard to diversity, the SEC ranked 24th out of 28 agencies when it came to diversity. In other words, the bottom of the barrel.”
PCAOB Fires Shot on Audit Issues, Calls for Enforcement [Compliance Week]
“The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has published a report summarizing its observations after inspecting audits performed while credit market seized and the economy plunged into depression. The report says auditors generally didn’t adhere adequately to PCAOB standards when it came to some of the toughest areas in financial reporting through the credit crisis – namely fair value measurements, goodwill impairments, indefinite-lived intangible assets and other long-lived assets, allowances for loan losses, off-balance-sheet structures, revenue recognition, inventory and income taxes.”
Viacom Names New CFO [WSJ]
Controller James Barge succeeds Tom Dooley who jumped over to the COO seat.
Accounting niches [AccMan]
Are accountants doing enough to leverage their professional expertise?
Investors unhappy with lack of competition in audit market [Accountancy Age]
“The Association Of British Insurers (ABI), whose members account for almost 15 per cent of investments in the London stock market, is worried about the audit structure and said it has made its views known in a submission to a House of Lords inquiry into audit competition.”
H&R Block sees 5-cent hit from IRS policy change [AP]
Fewer rapid refunds doesn’t seem like a bad thing.
KPMG’s Fuzzy Math on Atlantic Yards [NYO]
The completion of the Atlantic Yards project remains on a timetable that runs parallel to the adoption of IFRS in the United States.
Tax the rich, whoever they are [Don’t Mess with Taxes]
Come out with your hands up!
~ Good morning capital market servants. It’s Dan Braddock’s favorite day of the week. Just another reminder that we’ll be on a lighter posting schedule today as TPTB continue to interrogate us about our lack of influence. We’ll pop in from time to time today to make sure everyone is playing nice and be back to a full schedule tomorrow.
A Career in Accounting [WSJ]
“[W]hile jobs dried up during the economic crisis, hiring in accounting wasn’t hit as hard, and cutbacks have created a need for more hiring as the econ my Thompson, the U.S. campus recruiting leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers. She’ll be hiring 3,000 people this year, up from 2,600 last year.”
Does Anyone Really Want to Be an Accountant? A Tailgate Survey [Re:Balance]
Jim Peterson articulates two time-honored traditions: college football and accounting. The former’s popularity is never in question but Jim talked to some young tailgaters that might make you doubt the substantive popularity of the latter.
Senate Republicans firm on tax cuts for rich [Reuters]
“Republicans in the U.S. Senate poured cold water on Monday on hopes for a compromise with President Barack Obama that would have allowed Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire.
Taxes have become a flashpoint going into a November 2 election in which Republicans are seeking to wrest control of Congress from the president’s fellow Democrats. Obama says the cost of keeping the tax cuts for the rich is too high as the United States emerges from recession with a massive budget deficit.”
AIG Plots End to U.S. Aid [WSJ]
“American International Group Inc. and its government overseers are in talks to speed up an exit plan designed to repay U.S. taxpayers in full while enabling the giant insurer to regain independence, according to people familiar with the matter.
Under the plan, which could commence as early as the first half of 2011, the Treasury Department is likely to convert $49 billion in AIG preferred shares it holds into common shares, a move that could bring the government’s ownership stake in AIG to above 90%, from 79.8% currently, the people familiar said. The common shares would then be gradually sold off to private investors, a move that would reduce U.S. ownership and potentially earn the government a profit if the shares rise in value.”
Auditors Anticipate NY Ruling on Malpractice Exposure [Compliance Week]
“A group of investors in the reinsurance firm American International Group are suing the company’s audit firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, for failing to detect a long-running bid-rigging and accounting fraud scheme at AIG. PwC won a dismissal of the suit contending AIG shared blame because it was AIG employees who carried out the fraud that PwC failed to identify, a common defense for audit firms against shareholder claims.
The investor group, led by the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans Employees’ Retirement System, appealed the dismissal and will have their day in the New York Court of Appeals this week. A Delaware appeals court handed the case over to the New York Appeals court, saying ‘a resolution of this appeal depends on significant and unsettled questions of New York law.’ ”
Seeking An Equitable Outcome: NY State Court of Appeals Hears In Pari Delicto Cases [RTA]
Francine McKenna’s take on the case above.
Verizon Finance Chief Joh Killian Announces Plan to Retire After 31 Years [Bloomberg]
Get your résumé in now.
So Then I Guess Accounting Is Mostly Influenced By Middle-Aged White Dudes? [JDA]
“I’m on a roll with offending people lately so let’s just take this all the way and pull the diversity card, specifically when it comes to Accounting Today’s recent list of 100 Most Influential in accounting.
OK so some faces were predictable and totally warranted; soon-to-be-former FASB Chairman Bob Herz (we’re talking about influence in the profession, not sexiest), GASB Chairman Robert Attmore, PwC Chairman Dennis Nally, IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman… you get the idea. No, I mean you really get the idea, as the rest of the list is comprised of middle-aged white guys too except for 13 women and 3 1/2 black men (Barack Obama counts as .5 if we’re looking at this in a strictly statistical way). Yeah, we noticed.”
Convicted Accountant Loses Legal Bid for MBA Degree [BusinessWeek]
“A certified public accountant who hid his conviction for insider trading from his teachers at New York University’s graduate business school wasn’t entitled to the MBA degree that he thought he earned, a judge ruled.
In February 2007, three months after completing his course work at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Ayal Rosenthal pleaded guilty to charges that he leaked to his brother secret tips that he learned at his job at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Rosenthal never told the school about the investigation of him or his guilty plea, even while serving as a teaching assistant in a professional responsibility course, according to a court ruling.”
Potash says in talks for superior deals [Reuters]
“Potash Corp’s board urged shareholders to reject BHP Billiton’s hostile $39 billion offer and said it was in talks with a number of potential suitors for a superior deal.
Potash Corp, the world’s largest producer of potash based in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, said superior offers or other alternatives are expected to emerge.
Discussions are on with several of these third parties in order to generate superior offers, the company said in a statement.”
How to Shine in a Skype Interview [FINS ying across the country for a second round of meetings, you may be asked to interview for a job from the comfort of your living room.
While it might sound less stressful to some than an in-person meeting, such an interview can be filled with landmines for job candidates.”
The Problem With a Non-CPA CFO [FEI Financial Reporting Blog]
Francine McKenna guest-posts over at FEI for the second time, this time discussing the American Apparel situation and noting that 31 year-old CFO might be in over his head.
Goldfarb Branham LLP Investigating Shareholder Claims Against American Apparel, Inc. [Business Wire]
Speaking of APP, investigations are starting, “Goldfarb Branham LLP is investigating American Apparel, Inc. (APP 0.75, 0.00, -0.09%) due to allegations that the company may have issued materially inaccurate statements to investors concerning its 2009 financial results and the circumstances surrounding the replacement of American Apparel’s auditor.”
Movement afoot to increase diversity in accounting industry [Pittsburgh Business Times]
“Sam Stephenson, a partner at ParenteBeard LLC, a Downtown-based certified public accounting firm, brings an interesting perspective to the equation as a black man who has worked in the profession for nearly four decades. During his long tenure, he has seen improvements in efforts to recruit and promote women in the profession, but ethnic diversity still lags behind.
‘We need to bring this issue to the attention of individuals who run local and regional firms because they may not be aware that this is a problem,’ said Stephenson, who serves as a member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy, which enforces the licensing rules for CPAs. ‘A lack of diversity often means missed opportunities to attract talent and clients.’ ”
Preparer Costs Will Increase Some; Taxpayer Costs Will Increase More [Tax Update Blog]
Joe Kristan responds to fellow practitioner/blogger Robert Flach’s question of how the new tax preparer registration will affect costs for consumers more so than tax preparers.
Gays See Complex, Changing Tax Picture [Dow Jones Adviser]
“Gay couples are taking one step forward, one step back when it comes to their tax rights. Not to mention sideways.
The shifting landscape of new rules and initiatives makes it a big challenge to provide same-sex partners with good tax advice.
In Massachusetts, a successful challenge to a federal law denying gays tax breaks that heterosexual couples get could mean progress, but only if it stands up to an expected government appeal.”
Patrick Byrne Refutes Insider Trading Claims [Forbes]
FASB’s Tort Bar Gift [WSJ]
“In the eternal war between the plaintiffs bar and corporations, the lawsuit pack already owns the Senate and Now it seems the nation’s accountants want to give the lawyers another edge.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) will soon begin considering whether to require companies to account for the potential cost of ongoing litigation. Supporters insist this is merely about disclosure, but the proposal would hurt investors by offering roadmaps for new litigation and bigger settlements. We first wrote about this in 2008, and FASB retreated amid a business backlash. But FASB’s revised proposal, issued last month, isn’t much better.
Take the provision requiring companies to disclose their liability insurance coverage. Lawyers would be able to target their damage requests to the coverage maximum, or launch new lawsuits in the knowledge that more insurance dollars remain. This is why judges typically insist that coverage only be divulged under a secrecy order.”
Emmy votes are in and now it’s time to start counting [Los Angeles Times]
“With the Emmy Awards just a week and a half away, Ernst & Young LLP, the accounting firm in charge of counting the thousands of votes, will now kick into high gear figuring out who will be going home with a trophy come Aug. 29.
The deadline to get ballots in was 5 p.m. Tuesday. The last vote, as always, was turned in by veteran actress Jody Carter, who actually comes down to the firm’s downtown offices to fill out her ballot in person and turn it in to Andy Sales, the Ernst & Young lead partner for the prime-time Emmy Awards.”
Judge Denounces a Barclays Settlement [Reuters]
“The judge, Emmet G. Sullivan of Federal District Court, said at a hearing Tuesday that he was concerned about the proposed deal in which the bank had agreed to pay $298 million to resolve the charges over its dealings with Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Myanmar.
“This is a sweetheart deal,” Judge Sullivan said, adding that the average American citizen who gets caught robbing a bank does not get a deferred prosecution agreement, as Barclays did.
PricewaterhouseCoopers Calls on Organizations to Manage Diversity with their ‘Heads, Hearts and Wallets’ [PR Newswire]
“Organizations that leverage diverse talent and manage diversity with their ‘heads, hearts and wallets’ will gain long-term competitive advantages, noted Greg Garrison, Partner and Vice Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), in a keynote speech at the 2010 Ascend Annual Gala. Ascend is a 5,000-member professional leadership organization dedicated to leveraging the potential of pan-Asians.
Though organizations typically approach diversity from three perspectives — the head, which looks at diversity academically; the heart, which view it in moral terms; and the wallet, which ties diversity efforts directly to the bottom line — unsuccessful diversity commitments often occur because organizations approach the effort from just one of those mindsets.
‘Successful leaders approach diversity using all three lenses,’ stressed Garrison. ‘Looking through these lenses, leaders must act upon what they see and anticipate what is to come to successfully shape the talent that will drive business performance.’ ”
Office-Leasing Rebound Could Be Deceiving [WSJ]
“In New York, accounting giant Deloitte recently asked the city for $11 million in tax breaks that would support a consolidation of its New York offices at 4 World Financial Center in downtown Manhattan. Under the lease deal, which isn’t final, Deloitte—which now occupies some 934,000 square feet of office space in the city—would eventually move those operations into just 390,000 square feet at 4 World Financial Center, with options to expand to 630,000 square feet.
Deloitte would spend more than $90 million on building and fitting out the space with a new, more efficient design, according to its application for the tax breaks.”
IRS Probes Apple Employee for Kickbacks [Debits & Credits]
“A grand jury charged Apple’s global supply manager, Paul Shin Devine, who was responsible for selecting suppliers of enclosure materials for headsets for the iPhone and iPod. According to Justice Department prosecutors, who carried out a joint investigation with the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division and the FBI, Devine allegedly transmitted confidential internal Apple information to suppliers in China, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. In return, the suppliers agreed to pay him kickbacks, including payments based on a percentage of the business they did with Apple.”
SaaS switching – should we care? [AccMan]
“In theory at least, a SaaS/cloud approach makes it very easy to switch and the cost is relatively low, provided there isn’t a huge amount of data that needs unpicking and reforming. There is no throwing away of capital investments so no need to justify the decision in the same way you would if you’d installed an on-premise solution. Service providers that offer a freemium approach or a limited try-before-you-buy arrangement may appear attractive but even then it is only as you start to iron out the wrinkles that you find where the weaknesses lay.”
E&Y’s annual intern conference invaded Orlando yesterday and the ‘Berg had Director of Campus Recruiting, Dan Black on to discuss Gen Y and why they are pre-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay important to the future of the firm.
Despite their technology savviness, it appears that Gen Y is still relying on rock-paper-scissors as a key decision-making tool. Apparently, darts and jigsaw puzzles are important too.
Oh, and the time you put in as a line cook at Applebees’s in college really doesn’t translate into anything useful so don’t be too concerned about that.
And neither does PricewaterhouseCoopers. They and the rest of the Big 4 are all over this diversity thing, strategically placed fliers around the office, the constant barrage of emails and the training. Thank the Maker for the diversity training. However, we did note something that is part of the diversity strategy that probably has better intentions than it sounds:
One of those people I interviewed is Niloufar Molavi, who is the U.S. Chief Diversity Officer for PwC (PriceWaterhouseCoopers.) She is very proud of the diversity and inclusion work of PwC. When I asked Niloufar which of their programs, policies or processes were the most innovative, she said, “At PwC we’re proud of all our diversity efforts, but if I had to choose one to highlight, it would be our white male strategy. Men comprise over half our firm and it’s critical to engage them in the dialogue about inclusion.”
Diversity Is Dead? Not According to PwC [Fast Company]
Conservatives and the VAT [TaxVox]
Howard Gleckman at TaxVox explains that the two main arguments that conservatives have against a Value Added Tax (“VAT”) is that 1) it will put trillions into the Treasury that liberals will spend with reckless abandon. Plus the American people would not realize that they were paying so much to the Feds and 2) that it’s “too efficient.”
Re: #1 he essentially says (and we agree) “how is this different than the current situation?” and Americans are already clueless about how much they pay in taxes:
Americans seem entirely unaware of how much they pay in income taxes. The Tax Policy Center estimates that a typical American remits less than a dime in income tax for every dollar he or she earns. Ask the next 10 people you see how much of their income they paid in taxes just a week ago and I suspect none of them will get it right.
As far as #2 is concerned, he cites the idea “tax law distorts economic decision making,” and explains that “the worst possible tax system is good because it will punish the economy to the maximum possible extent.” That is, some argue that a complex system prevents more wasteful spending (chew on that for awhile).
He concedes that it wouldn’t be a perfect system but in case you haven’t heard, our government has a revenue problem (yes, he says spending needs to be cut too) and raising income taxes is about as popular as Al Gore at an Oil Barons Ball.
PricewaterhouseCoopers Announces $500,000 in Grants to Expand Diverse Talent Pipeline [PR]
PwC will shell out $150k to Bryant University, The University of Southern California and Wake Forest University and $50k to Florida International University to help spread the good word of tax careers to minorities, “[The Universities] will use the funds for scholarships and hands-on career exploration programs for students from groups that have historically been underrepresented in the accounting field, including African-Americans/blacks, Latinos and Native-Americans.”
An Inconvenient Tax: Philadelphia Premiere! [Tax Girl]
While this looks like a moderately interesting documentary, the title is terribly unoriginal.
But this time it is called, “Diversifying Business Standards” and he’ll be touching on a number of issues that don’t have anything to do with with the “218 reprimands for failure to meet mandatory training requirements” (which may or may not include mandatory diversity training).
And we’re guessing he won’t make reference to the Chief Diversity Officer because if you don’t happen to have one, it’s simply impossible to be a diverse company.
Oh, and never mind the whole H-1B controversy at Deloitte Consulting. That will blow over.
This particular chat will be going on at the DiversityInc’s “How Global Diversity Impacts the Domestic Diversity” event that is going on Washington, DC next week. The agenda indicates that the speech will address the following issues:
What are global values? What are emerging global standards for accountancy? What standards should companies meet in every country? How can you get your top leadership to understand that diversity efforts must be global?
Now if you are able to understand these questions, please inform us of their meaning because we’re a little lost.
Will the speech be about global values for accounting firms? Are global diversity standards the next thing that will be converged? If so, we’ll remind you that the whole accounting convergence thing hasn’t gone so well. How do you think global diversity rules will work out?
Will the top leaders in companies need to attend training about global diversity first before they understand that world is diverse? Apparently some men at Deloitte don’t understand women yet, how the hell are they going understand someone in another country that might be across an ocean?
Deloitte CEO to Speak at DiversityInc Event [DiversityInc]
Diversity Inc. ran a post this week highlighting Ernst & Young’s recruiting efforts with regards to increasing its diversity numbers. Specifically touching on EY’s Discover Tax Program, the essence behind Diversity’s article revolved around how EY (like its competitors) have established programs in place to both actively recruit Black and Latino students as well as break the stigma oftentimes placed on accountants by the media and society (i.e. nerdy white guys). What it ignored was the money these programs are costing firms.
It’s no secret that the Big 4 are out to recruit the best and brightest. Caleb has hit home the fact that the same firms are ranking whores as well. But why do the firms have separate programs aimed directly at minority-represented societal cross sections?
Because the numbers are abysmal.
Latino in America cut through recent U.S. Census data to realize that, although roughly one in three Americans is a minority, only 8% of the CPA profession is represented by minorities:
• 4% Asian/Pacific Islander
• 3% Latino
• 1% African American
Increasing diversity from the campus level is an uphill battle. Internal programs and recruitment efforts can can only reach so far (and they’re expensive). For the sake of not sacrificing quality workmanship, the reality is there are simply not enough minority accounting students in the market. Supply and demand, people.
In steps INROADS.
INROADS is, for all intents and purposes, a global internship placement company for minority students. Companies pay a premium for an opportunity to hire the candidates that the INROADS organization hand selects. Their website states the following:
There are three keys to success for INROADS students: Selection, Education & Training, and Performance. For over three decades, INROADS has helped businesses gain greater access to diverse talent through continuous leadership development of outstanding ethnically diverse students and placement of those students in internships at many of North America’s top corporations, firms and organizations.
A quick glance at their top ten client listing and four very familiar names will jump out to you. According to the website, the Big 4 are the current employers of more than 375 INROADS interns. These are not staggering numbers by any means, but it is clear that the firms are in fact shelling out money to make the workplace more diverse.
You might even be asking yourself, “What’s a few thousand dollars to recruit two additional minority students to my office?” Well, after an increase in an office’s diversity percentage, it most likely results in someone’s personal payday come performance review season. Oh, and the firm looks great on paper.
E&Y tweeted an interesting release this morning regarding their outlook on cultural diversity and how it relates to future success, both at their firm and in tomorrow’s global economy. I encourage you to read the full text (linked above), but here is an exercept I want to focus on:
“Our recent study “Redrawing the map: globalization and the changing world of business” reveals that the boards of many global companies lack the diversity to deal with intercultural challenges. At the same time, they cite the need for internationally experienced staff as the most important cultural factor in conducting business globally.”
Every firm is well aware of the importance for cross-cultural efficiencies as an accelerator to getting business done in the global markets. I agree with the article’s point that, “If an organization does not leverage the potent weapon of diversity, it risks limiting its creative potential and ultimately losing its competitive edge.” This is absolutely true. But how does a firm balance the “need” for cultural diversity with the reality that the leadership of many clients oftentimes resembles more of an Old White Man’s Club than that of an idealistic HR workplace? From schoolyard to the boardroom, we as people are naturally drawn to the bubble of comfort created by surrounding ourselves with those who are similar to us; commonalty breeds security. Think back to your last happy hour or the lunch table in 4th grade – what has changed?
On a personal level, E&Y isn’t failing at its internal diversity efforts; per Caleb’s post last week, they are second among the Big4 in terms of overall diversity hires (29%) and their male/female ratio is an even-steven 50%. These numbers are most likely bolstered by increased retention over the last 18 months as well as a focus on diverse hiring from the campus pipelines.
That’s not to say that the ongoing effort to strike a better diversity balance is unrealistic or futile. The next generation of partners (i.e. you new associates sweating through your first 80 hour workweek) are better prepared for the global workforce than the average 20 year veteran partner. The influx of group work, community service, and international students enrolled in American higher education institutions remains at the origin of preparedness. Couple these attributes with the fact that these colleges and universities see the statistical advantage to stirring the Diversity Melting Pot, today’s students are prepared more than ever for the corporate boardroom. If only you could send your partners back to experience the same thing.
The challenge for any firm lies in managing the differences created across cultures and generations. The basis of this responsibility lies within personal relationships formed between colleagues; something that no report or Fortune statistic can analyze.
You can follow Daniel Braddock, your friendly Human Resources professional, on Twitter @DWBraddock.
Last week when Deloitte announced the appointment of a new Chief Diversity Officer, we surmised that the reason for such a position is so firms can promote their diversity 24/7. Finally realizing that this wasn’t physically possible, we started wondering what kind of objectives a Chief Diversity Officer would set for their firm.
Deloitte’s press release from last week states that the new CDO, “will be responsible for Deloitte’s diversity strategy and will lead its continuing efforts to attract, retain and develop the best talent in the marketplace.” Isn’t attracting the best talent something the firms are constantly doing? The statement seems to indicate that “responsible for diversity strategy” is mutually exclusive from “attracting the best talent in the marketplace.” So are goals for the diversity strategy different? If so, are they SMART, like our little chalkboard friend suggests?
If the goals are based on percentages (i.e. measurable), then we’re in luck because the Fortune one-hundo included diversity information that stated what the percentage of minorities and women were at each firm on the list (sorry omitted firms).
• Ernst & Young – 29% minorities; 50% women
• Plante & Moran – 6% minorities; 54% women
• Deloitte – 32% minorities; 44% women
• PwC – 27% minorities; 49% women
• KPMG – 27% minorities; 48% women
We emailed and left a voicemail for John Zamora, the new CDO at Deloitte, to get some perspective on these numbers (for Deloitte) but have yet to hear back. We mostly want to know if these numbers are acceptable or if not, and if they aren’t, what percentages the firm is attempting to achieve (if those are part of the goals).
In the meantime we do know that all of the Big 4 have Chief Diversity Officers (technically E&Y’s is an inclusiveness officer) and P&M has a Diversity Council so there seems to be people assigned to this issue at every firm, large and small.
Furthermore, all of the Big 4 appear on the Diversity Inc’s list of Top 50 Companies for Diversity for muptiple years, so we know that they have been recognized for their diversity efforts.
So that’s why we’re confused; what exactly are the goals of these firms with respect to diversity? Are they looking to dominate the Diversity list, like they do the best places to intern list? Is this all about dominating magazine lists?
Barry Salzberg didn’t waste any time addressing all the belly aching over the H-1B controversy. Yesterday, Deloitte announced the appointment of John Zamora as Chief Diversity Officer and we expect all the complaining to subside by the end of the week.
We like this move. Dr. Phil simply cannot be expected to be out there 24/7 developing training sessions that nobody attends, doing interviews, and keeping up the general free-wheeling on his own. And if someone isn’t out there doing all those things, no one — we mean NO ONE — is going to think that Deloitte is diverse. Constant bombardment of diversity initiatives and efforts is the only way. Solution? Chief Diveristy Officer John Zamora.
Full press release after the jump.
NEW YORK, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire/ — Deloitte today announced the appointment of John Zamora to the position of chief diversity officer. Zamora will be responsible for Deloitte’s diversity strategy and will lead its continuing efforts to attract, retain and develop the best talent in the marketplace.
“John brings 20 years of professional services experience to this position along with the passion, energy and commitment to lead our organization’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and inspire others in the industry,” said Barry Salzberg, chief executive officer, Deloitte LLP. “I am confident in John’s ability to sustain and advance Deloitte’s inclusive environment, where the brightest are valued for their ideas and contributions to each other, our clients and our culture.”
Zamora currently works with clients in the Real Estate and Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure industries and is the operations leader for the Southeast region. He will continue in this role in addition to serving as chief diversity officer.
“Diversity is the foundation of Deloitte’s competitive business advantage,” said Zamora. “In the global marketplace today, diversity of thought, backgrounds and experiences are at the core of an organization’s ability to build high performing teams that deliver outstanding results to our clients and our people. As chief diversity officer, I plan to further Deloitte’s longstanding commitment to diversity and fostering an environment where the industry’s highest caliber of diverse talent can achieve their personal and professional goals.”
Back in November, we introduced you to Punit Renjen, the new Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Consulting. Based on his statements at the time, PR sounded pretty stoked about leading D Con and making sure the firm remains on any “Best Places to Work” list .
But since P. Ren took the helm, there has b speculation on the Deloitte forum Greendotlife about laid off Americans in favor of Indians on H-1B visas.
As you might expect, it’s a pretty ugly conversation:
Deloitte Consulting under the leadership of Punit Renjen has completely lost its moral compass. This man has put profits ahead of the American workers. He has shown his deliberate willingness to sabotage the dreams of many American young men and women who are able and hard working. Sacking highly qualified Americans and then replacing them with cheap less qualified foreigners is morally wrong and Un-American. That is the Punit paradigm.
Let’s be serious here- do we really want to outsource the strategy ops/ human capital work to a bunch of foreigners? It makes sense to give them the behind the scenes job such as programming, testing, payroll, etc.
And a response:
WHAT? “Lost his moral compass”?? Firstly, his job is to maximize partner profits. He is legally allowed to fire Americans, in America, and bring in foreigners to replace them. If he didn’t do it, someone else would. Competitors such as IBM, Accenture etc. cartainly do this all the time.
And this is the tame stuff. It would be easy for us to say that this is typical American xenophobia but if enough people are complaining about it, does that make it a problem for Deloitte leadership? As another comment attests:
It seems there is much concern amongst posters on this thread that Indians are replacing American workers in an American firm in the USA because they are cheaper and because the senior leadership wants to “celebrate diversity”.
Looking at the number of posts and the level of passion exhibited, this is a real issue for many people, so stop trying to shut down the conversation. People are concerned about this. And don’t start bleating “racist” like a sheep.
Deloitte certainly likes making their diversity efforts known but it would difficult (if not impossible) for anyone to prove that this is the firm’s approach at promoting diversity.
Further — as much as Lou Dobbs hates it — if Deloitte is replacing Americans with Indians, it’s perfectly legal and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. The whole thing is moot anyway, as a lawyer friend told us that the H-1B quota has already been met for 2010.
We reached out to a Deloitte spokesperson who said that the firm would not comment on individual opinions from the forum.
Wanting some additional perspective, we asked some of our sources at Deloitte for their opinions on the discussion:
[F]rom looking at what’s going on in my group and region, I would tend to conclude the opposite. The vast majority of people who got got axed were on H1B and Senior Managers were often heard talking about how it’s hard to justify (to who I’m not sure) hiring non-American when there’s such a glut of American capacity; and I doubt that the hiring/firing strategies would differ so drastically.
Another source was not only skeptical but told us that maybe people should be more concerned about their clients:
[Many] seemed to be paranoid about losing their jobs to someone in Hyderabad. I think that their fears are overblown. I was always more concerned about my client going bankrupt or us being replaced…than I was some guy on the other side of the world taking my job.
So what exactly is going on here? You’ve got a forum full of angry Deloitte employees claiming that jobs are disappearing for the sake of diversity and cutting costs but is there anything to it? Aren’t we witnessing an international company making business decisions? If you’ve got additional thoughts and insights, get in touch with us and discuss below.
If any Deloittians were even remotely concerned that Bloomberg would squash the BusinessWeek list franchise — and thus stealing Deloitte’s crown — as part of yesterday’s completed ause for concern because the big D is now extra super special.
Deloitte has been named the “model employer” in conjunction with “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,” according to a press release.
The release is not yet available on the Deloitte website so we’ve presented it here:
SHRIVER REPORT NAMES DELOITTE MODEL EMPLOYER
Deloitte Recognized for its Strategies to Adapt to the Evolving Workforce
NEW YORK, December 2, 2009 — Deloitte LLP has been named the “model employer” in conjunction with “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,” a study released last month by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress. The Shriver Report is an in-depth study and analysis of what has happened, and what still needs to happen, now that women comprise half of the United States workforce and contribute significantly to household income. The study explores how business, government, the media and other institutions can work together to adapt and benefit from the trend.
The report has been delivered to President Obama, each of the Fortune 500 CEOs and all 535 members of Congress. Shriver has presented its findings to the Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and Labor.
The Shriver Report refers to Deloitte as “an excellent example of an employer that has taken an aggressive leadership position in protean career approaches,” providing career-life integration programs that allow both the organization and its workforce — women and men — to reach their goals.
Barry Salzberg, chief executive officer of Deloitte LLP, said, “Deloitte applauds The Shriver Report’s efforts to raise awareness of a trend that is not only transforming our institutions, but providing them with opportunities to grow, innovate and enhance their performance. Through our own substantial efforts to retain and advance women, we’re realizing the benefits and value to our organization, to the clients we serve, and to the cities and communities in which we do business.”
In 1993, Deloitte established the first major corporate initiative for the retention and advancement of women to harness opportunities presented by the growing representation of women in the workforce. Today, Deloitte’s Women’s Initiative focuses on building a strong pipeline of women professionals that strengthens leadership, drives marketplace growth and creates a culture where the best people — women and men — choose to be. Through a variety of ongoing professional development, mentoring and career-life programs, Deloitte has increased the number of women partners, principals and directors to more than 1,000 today from 97 in 1993.
Most recently, recognizing that one-size-fits-all workplace practices suit fewer and fewer professionals, Deloitte has moved from a corporate ladder to a corporate lattice model of career development. No longer is moving up the ultimate goal — there are now many ways to have a successful career. Since adopting this model, Deloitte’s has enjoyed a 25 percent increase in overall employee satisfaction with career-life fit and earned the No.1 ranking on BusinessWeek’s list of “Best Places to Launch a Career” in 2009.
“Deloitte’s experience since the inception of our Women’s Initiative parallels the journey described in The Shriver Report — the transition from a fixed idea of what professionals must to do develop their careers to the idea that career development can be more fluid. We have steered our organization toward a new paradigm of work, one that allows both men and women the flexibility to grow their careers and live their lives, without having to sacrifice one for the other,” said Barbara Adachi, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and leader of Deloitte’s Women’s Initiative.
Deloitte’s leading talent initiatives and benefits include:
• Mass Career Customization ™ — a model that enables all Deloitte professionals to dial up and dial down their careers to fit their needs at various life stages
• Women as Buyers, a program to help men at Deloitte build stronger relationships with women clients and colleagues by better understanding their work styles
• A voluntary sabbatical program that allows Deloitte employees to take up to six months off to engage in volunteering and other personal pursuits
• Deloitte University, a state-of-the-art learning and leadership development facility currently under construction to foster personal and professional growth at Deloitte
• Paid parental leave with no minimum eligibility requirements, emergency back-up dependent day care, adoption assistance, and a Personal Pursuits program to support those who take career breaks for up to five years
As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte LLP and Deloitte Services LP, separate subsidiaries of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries.
Dr. Phil is obviously ecstatic since he’s been out there working the diversity angle. And we have to admit that it’s nice recognition for the firm. A couple of more notable things fell under “Deloitte’s leading talent initiatives and benefits.”
We’re all familiar with Deloitte’s version of Delta Chi. The destruction will be centralized and will not doubt save the firm millions in the long run. Brilliant.
We’re even more interested in the “Women as Buyers” program. Unless we misunderstand, there must be a hell of a lot of men at Deloitte that need help understanding that their female colleagues aren’t interested in spending 2 – 3 hours a day strategizing for this week’s matchup in fantasy football. Or that shirts come in colors other than blue. Couldn’t they have passed out copies of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus instead?
Gents, if you’ve participated in the Women as Buyers program we’d love to hear about it, since our speculation about the content is suspect at best. Also, feel free to discuss Deloitte’s latest triumph (not to mention promotion opportunity) in the realm of ubiquitous employer lists.
Awhile back we told you about Salz’s dissatisfaction of the diversity at Deloitte, regardless of their long-standing commitment to it.
After the Web CPA piece, Dr. Phil is steppin cussing Deloitte’s recruitment of students on community college campuses in last Friday’s Business Week. The article points out up front that, “Deloitte CEO Barry Salzberg likes to talk about the value of diversity. But of the 4,500 partners and other top executives at his firm, 92% are white.” We did the math, that’s less than 500 non-white partners.
So this is obviously a public relations problem that the firms would rather not have, since as we’ve noted, they love, love, love to point out how diverse they are, regardless of what others are saying. The facts simply seem to be that accounting, as an industry, doesn’t seem to be that diverse:
Continued, after the jump
For Deloitte, the hope is to reach high-potential people of color at community colleges, interest them in accounting, and then shepherd them through a university to a job upon graduation. If it works, it could turn around a troubling trend. In 2004, African Americans represented 1% of all CPAs, Latinos 3%, and Asians 4%, according to a U.S. Treasury Dept. report on the profession. By 2007 the figures were unchanged, if not down slightly.
Okay, so those numbers aren’t good for anyone. They’re especially not good for the image of the firms or the profession. Deloitte’s plan is to recruit on six community college campuses to try and convince the students that accounting is a kick ass career. Obviously that’s easier said than done:
Deloitte will have to do a fair amount of myth-busting. Many students believe accountants don green eyeshades and plunk away at calculators all day. So Deloitte is sending a brigade of up to eight staffers, including at least one senior partner, to enlighten, mentor, and ultimately guide potential recruits toward an accounting career. In visits to the campus classrooms, the partners plan to share workplace perspectives and explanations of how the industry has broadened to include financial, management, technology, and human capital consulting. “I don’t think students realize the vastness of what you can do in accounting,” says Gregory Brookins, a CPA and associate professor at Santa Monica Community College. “They feel like it’s a boring bean-counting job.”
‘They feel like it’s a boring bean-counting job’? GASP. How’d they get that impression?
Not everyone is on board with this plan, specifically, E&Y, “…it recruits from four-year universities where students get credits toward the CPA exam. That’s something “a two-year program doesn’t offer,” says Ken Bouyer, Americas Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting for Ernst & Young.”
Plus, since accounting firms like to pitch their professionals’ merits when courting new clients, there is a worry that community college grads are jumping up and down to brag about their less-prestigious education regardless of the accomplishments they’ve made professionally.
So accounting firms and the accounting industry appear to have an old white boy’s club problem. Is Deloitte taking the right approach? Is E&Y’s attitude short-sighted? Discuss your thoughts in the comments.
Deloitte’s Diversity Push [BW]
Since accounting firms like to boast about their diverse workforce but always seem to maintain that it isn’t diverse enough, we would kindly ask, “which the hell is it?” The whole argument of “we can always do better” is fine but at least one academic is saying that the accounting profession has pretty much failed in its attempts to develop a more diverse workforce.
Continued, after the jump
Frank K. Ross, director of the Howard University Center for Accounting Education, called for increased efforts at recruitment, retention and leadership development…Ross noted that despite four decades of effort and significant progress, accounting still trails other professions, and many large businesses, in minority representation. According to the AICPA’s most recent study, minorities currently hold only 5 percent of partnership positions at the largest firms, and only one percent of partners are African-American.
So if accounting firms of all sizes having been trying for forty years to diversify their workforce and still trail other professions and minorities only compromise 5% of the partner positions at the largest firms, does that mean these firms really suck at recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce?
If the AICPA is calling out its own members for sucking at diversity, we might have more of a corporate culture issue as the source of the problem. Professor Ross notes “significant progress” but that doesn’t really seem to be illustrated here.
Fortunately, like all good academics, Prof. Ross manages to have suggestions for improvement:
• Making diversity an integral part of the corporate culture – building it into the DNA of the organization;
• Developing special training for employees at all levels to help them become more sensitive to cultural differences and more aware of diverse styles of working;
• Identifying the best and brightest from their minority workforce and singling them out for focused support at all times, including downturns; and,
• Establishing diversity in cultural background and experience as key criteria in hiring and for work assignments.
Honestly we’re not crazy about these suggestions since we don’t understand how some of these would be implemented. All the firms require diversity training already so is the suggestion to require super-diversity training? And “identify the best and brightest”. Don’t the firms already claim to do this?
Since you all are on the front lines discuss – in the comments – your firm’s diversity initiatives and whether you think they are actually productive or its simply more of your firm’s sorry attempt to disinform about their lack of diversity. Is it the culture among the firms or are there other factors keeping these firms from improving on diversity?
Accounting firms get lots of recognition for their diversity, but Barry Salzberg isn’t satisified:
More, after the jump
Deloitte still plans to do aggressive hiring of Asian employees, including in Asia, where Salzberg said the firm was doing more offshore outsourcing of accounting work, especially at a center in Hyderabad, India. The firm also plans to ramp up its recruitment of African American and Latino employees.
What he can’t figure out is why 30% of annual recruits are Asian, but only 20% of the Deloitte workforce is Asian, and only 6% are partners or directors.
He has some ideas though:
“We think there is a cultural issue there with Asians typically being less aggressive, a little bit more reticent to speak up, and when they move to the manager and senior manager ranks, which happen very clearly within the organization, it then appears that their leadership skills are not being demonstrated in the minds of those that are evaluating them,” he said.
We’re not exactly sure if B. Salz is saying that Asians don’t make partner because they are reticent to speak up or if it’s because the people evaluating them have unattainable standards of performance.
One thing is for certain. The trend of bald men in leadership roles remains strong to very strong.
We’re sure you’ve got opinions on this. Like we mentioned, the firms aren’t shy about promoting how diverse they are. So what are you thoughts on diversity at Deloitte? In the Big 4? Discuss in the comments.