Expanding Diversity in Our Talent Pipeline
Many firms have prioritized diversity, equity and inclusion in recent years as they look to build a workforce that looks more like America. While it can be easy to become overwhelmed by how much work remains to be done, I prefer to look at the challenges as opportunities to change things for the better.
At Marcum, we believe there is a lot that the accounting industry and our firm can do to attract and retain more diverse professionals. But that work has to start early, before students are making career decisions. Otherwise, they may choose other fields.
To that end, we’ve created the Marcum Diversity Scholarship Fund, an initiative of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) program. Our goal is to help address the scarcity of minority CPAs in the U.S. I see this as one of the most direct and potentially impactful ways we can affect positive change for our industry in the future.
Our goal is to build a diverse pipeline of future accountants. We believe our team should reflect the world we live in and the clients we serve.
For many years, accounting has suffered from a lack of diversity and particularly a lack of Black and Latino accountants. Currently, 82% of accounting firm partners and 77% of CPAs are white, according to the AICPA. To serve our clients best in a country that is becoming more diverse with each passing year, we believe we need to make diversity a top priority. The scholarship fund is just one small step in that direction.
The fund will give outstanding sophomore and junior accounting majors from underrepresented groups a $5,000 grant for one academic year. We are working with our university partners to select the students, based on factors including grade point average and extracurricular activities.
Perhaps more importantly, the students who receive the scholarships will also do internships in a Marcum office, receive professional mentoring, and have access to Marcum’s Associate Resource groups. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive experience that helps promising students get a 360-degree perspective on an accounting career with Marcum. The program will also be a great way for students to start building their professional networks. Accounting is ultimately a people business, and having a strong network is one of the most powerful assets any future accounting firm partner can have.
The Marcum Diversity Scholarship Fund started as a pilot at selected universities in our Mid-Atlantic region in 2021. Initial funding was awarded to four African-American accounting majors attending Rutgers-Camden, Lincoln University and Morgan State University. Now the program is rolling out to other Marcum regions. Our offices in California and Illinois will be the next to fund awards.
One thing we’ve learned in developing our DEI initiatives is that it is important to make sure we take time to learn from key stakeholders how our programs are working and how we can continue to improve upon them. I’ll be listening closely to the feedback we get from the students who participate this year, and the offices that host them. I have high expectations for the positive impact this program will have for these promising students as well as for our office teams.
On another note, today is both Good Friday and the start of Passover, to be followed by Easter this Sunday. As is our tradition, the Weiner family will be celebrating in South Florida (after a 3-hour flight delay last night).
To those of you who observe, we wish you and your families a joyous and meaningful holiday.