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MassCPAs Report Exposes Perception Gap Fueling Talent Shortage in Accounting Industry

May 15, 2024

As the accounting industry grapples with a significant talent shortage, a comprehensive report from MassCPAs sheds light on the critical issue of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) challenges and opportunities within the profession. The report, “Workplace Inclusion: An Imperative for Change in the Accounting Profession,” highlights the urgent need for more inclusive workplace cultures to stem the tide of professionals leaving the field. Despite concerted efforts to prioritize DEIB initiatives, the accounting profession lags behind other industries in recruiting and retaining diverse talent. One contributor is a persistent perception gap between accounting leaders and employees regarding inclusivity in the workplace. Notably, research reveals that one in 10 accounting professionals has left the field due to insufficient inclusion and equity measures, highlighting the urgency for leaders to prioritize DEIB efforts.

Key findings include:


  • Diversity Disparities: Approximately 80% of senior leaders are white and 60% male, while non-white and LGBTQ+ representation remains minimal. Despite 40% of accounting graduates identifying as non-white, only 23% of professional staff and 18% of partners are non-white, reflecting significant diversity gaps within the accounting profession.
  • Perception Gap: While 68% of leaders believe they foster empowering environments, only 36% of employees agree. Furthermore, 97% of HR leaders believe their organization has improved DEIB, contrasting sharply with the experiences of many employees who feel their needs are unmet. 
  • Gender Inequities: Women in accounting still face barriers to advancement, including unfair treatment in recruitment, inequitable access to sponsors and mentors, and gender bias from leaders. Over 60% of women in accounting report experiencing inequities such as unfair compensation and promotion practices. 
  • High Burnout Rates: Burnout rates among accountants are alarmingly high, contributing to significant attrition from the profession. Long hours and stress during busy periods are cited as primary reasons for departure.

The report emphasizes the need for accounting organizations to prioritize DEIB efforts and implement strategic recommendations to bridge the perception gap. Recommendations include establishing strategic imperatives, fostering inclusive cultures, and revitalizing mentorship programs and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). 

Join us on June 26 for our FREE CPE PLUS webinar: Answering the Call for Inclusive Leadership in Accounting! We'll review key takeaways from the report and explore issues specific to the accounting profession.