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CAQ increases diversity efforts with new initiative

The Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) announced a strategic education initiative on Tuesday intended to expose students to careers in accounting, attract greater diversity and representation within the profession, and address barriers to entry from underrepresented and underserved groups.

The CAQ, which is affiliated with the AICPA, expects the program to play an important role in the profession’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts.

In the fall, the program will begin by delivering resources on accounting careers for teachers and students with a focus on increasing the diversity of students choosing to major in accounting. In the spring semester, the program will expand to an interactive digital experience for students across the country, providing access to education that exposes them to careers in the profession.

The CAQ’s goal is for the program to be used in at least 1,000 schools this academic year and 3,000 schools in the 2023–2024 school year, according to a news release.

“We are focused on addressing the diversity gap that exists within our profession,” Liz Barentzen, the CAQ’s vice president, Operations and Talent Initiatives, said in the news release. “Now with a national schools program, we are able to reach the next generation of accounting professionals and ensure that students can see themselves within this growing profession. We are committed to making accounting more approachable and cultivating equitable representation within the field.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 76.3% of employed accountants and auditors in the United States are white. While the profession has made strides toward increasing DEI — through programs such as the CAQ’s Accounting+ and Bold Ambition — industry professionals have recognized the gap in providing educational opportunities and resources about the profession to students from underserved communities.

This initiative is part of a strategic partnership between the CAQ and EVERFI, a social impact education company, to provide high-quality programming about careers in accounting.

“It’s important for students to see themselves and feel represented in careers they can pursue,” Ray Martinez, EVERFI president and co-founder, said in a news release. “It’s critical to reach students before they leave high school with resources around career exploration.”

The CAQ will also sponsor a scholarship contest, awarding $50,000 in college scholarships in the current academic year and $75,000 in the 2023–2024 academic year.

— To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Kevin Brewer at [email protected]

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