Foundation Offers Grants to Improve Diversity of CPA Pipeline

by Kimberly Scott, CAE, WSCPA President & CEO | Jan 04, 2018

Although providing scholarships to future CPAs is a key program for the Washington CPA Foundation, the Foundation Trustees are also excited to promote the profession to students that may not be aware of the opportunities a career in accounting can bring. One of the ways the Foundation does this is through providing grants to organizations with programs or events designed to improve the diversity of the CPA pipeline in Washington.

The grants are available to organizations with programs focused on students from kindergarten through community college. This is a new program and many people and organizations are unaware of the potential opportunity it provides.

Why is there a focus on kindergarten through community college?

Studies show that children who meet a CPA or learn about the CPA profession at a young age are more likely to become a CPA later in life.

Why is there a focus on diversity?

According to the AICPA’s 2017 Trends Report, only 12% of the CPAs working in US CPA firms are ethnically diverse.

As stated by the AICPA Diversity and Inclusion Commission, “We live in one of the world’s most diverse countries and yet, when one looks at the population of CPAs—the business world’s most trusted advisers—diversity in the profession is simply not keeping pace. In order to continue to serve the public interest, the CPA profession must become more representative of our nation’s diversity.

“Increasing diversity in the accounting profession is a multifaceted goal. It starts with raising awareness of people of all backgrounds about accounting careers through information and imaging. In addition, we need to generate interest by providing guidance and resources that facilitate active minority participation in the profession.”

Diversity is good for business. According to a recent McKinsey study, “Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform their counterparts. …companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” Additionally, a 2015 study from Bersin by Deloitte showed that diverse companies had 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee over a three-year period than non-diverse companies.

It is well-proven that diverse, heterogeneous teams promote creativity and innovation. Only by fully embracing diversity and maximizing the well-being and contributions of everyone can we fully maximize the strength and relevance of the accounting profession. We must encourage everyone in the profession to reach their full potential, without anyone being advantaged or disadvantaged by their difference.

Applications Now Being Accepted

If you know of a school or non-profit implementing a program to promote the accounting profession, especially the CPA designation, to diverse students (kindergarten to community college), please encourage them to apply for a grant. Application forms are available at the WSCPA Foundation grants program. Applications are due by March 30, 2018, and grants will be awarded by June 2018.

Kimberly Scott 2016_web150x200Kimberly Scott, CAE, is Executive Director of the Washington CPA Foundation and President & CEO of the Washington Society of CPAs. You can contact her at

This article appeared in the winter 2018 issue of the WashingtonCPA Magazine. Read more here.

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