Microsoft announces $1 million commitment to minority accounting association

In an effort to further its diversity efforts, Microsoft Corp. recently unveiled a $1 million commitment of cash and software over the next three years to the National Association of Black Accountants Inc. (NABA). The multifaceted commitment is an extension of Microsoft's longstanding relationship with NABA.

Microsoft's commitment will align with NABA's existing mission to build a pipeline of African-American talent in the accounting and finance profession. The company hopes to enhance NABA's strategies through more than a simple monetary donation by sponsoring many scholarships and local chapter funds on the West Coast, lending technical training for Microsoft Enterprise products, and providing free software licenses. One such example can be found in Seattle, where Microsoft will sponsor a significant portion of the local NABA chapter's scholarship fund and general fund, and its Accounting Career Awareness Program designed to entice high school students to enter the profession.

"With this amazing commitment from Microsoft, we feel even more confident that we will be able to continue our efforts to increase the talent pool of black accountants and finance professionals," said Gwendolyn Skillern, CPA and national president and CEO of NABA. "Partnering with companies such as Microsoft is crucial to help NABA succeed in increasing awareness and creating opportunities for more African-Americans to enter and continue in this great profession."

Microsoft believes that to become a diversity leader in the technology industry, it must have strong partnerships with organizations such as NABA.

"Building a more diverse work force on all corporate levels is a strategic imperative at Microsoft," said Alain Peracca, corporate vice president of Audit at Microsoft. "I am delighted the two organizations will be working even more closely to grow the next generation of African-American accountants and financial professionals."

The commitment comes at a time when approximately 1 percent of all Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are African-American, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants report, "2008 Trends in the Survey of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits." The numbers for new hires are somewhat more encouraging with African-Americans accounting for 8 percent of all newly hired CPAs according to the same report.

In addition to its accounting focus, NABA is considered by many to be the leading financial services organization for African-Americans. Microsoft hopes to help increase these numbers by funding NABA scholarships to support future generations of technologically savvy African-American accountants and finance professionals.

Elaine Raymond, 2008 NABA Business Scholar, Seattle Chapter scholarship winner sponsored by Microsoft, can speak to the importance of the scholarships.

"It reassures me about my future," Raymond said. "A scholarship coming from NABA shows a support network recognized by great companies such as Microsoft, and it's comforting to know that a potential employer is helping me to graduate with a degree in business."

The $1 million commitment also includes the creation of the Microsoft Innovation in Accounting Technology Award, to begin in 2009, which will reward those NABA members who use or create new technologies that lead to improvements in the accounting and finance professions.

"To achieve Microsoft's ambitious business goals, we rely on the diversity of talent to keep the company firing on all cylinders," said Frank Brod, corporate vice president of Finance and Administration at Microsoft. "So it's important that we always work to increase our diversity of talent, including accountants and financial professionals, to ensure the needs of our customers, partners, and shareholders are met. An important element is rewarding those diverse professionals who take the techniques of the trade to a new level. That is why I'm particularly happy to see the creation of the Microsoft Innovation in Accounting Technology Award in 2009. With this, we will be able to help lift NABA members as they climb."

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