Ernst & Young Hosts Events to Enhance Diversity and Inclusiveness

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By Anne Rosivach

Nearly 150 ethnically diverse students from 73 campuses in the United States traveled to New York City to attend Ernst & Young LLP's (E&Y) sixth annual Discover Ernst & Young event January 4–6. Accounting and business majors interacted with firm leaders and E&Y personnel, who were eager to present the challenges and exciting potential of an accounting career at E&Y.

Concurrently, E&Y hosted its fourth annual Campus Diversity and Inclusiveness Roundtable, a forum at which deans, faculty, and administrators from top business programs discussed the business imperative for diversity and inclusion, and they shared best practices. Jim Turley, Chairman and CEO of E&Y, and corporate executives from Microsoft and Siemens were participants in this year's roundtable. 

Both events are designed to address the underrepresentation of African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians in the accounting profession. 

E&Y decided to expand the scope and size of the Discover E&Y event this year to include all practice areas within the firm. "We had been so successful with the E&Y Discover Tax programs that we decided to increase the numbers of attendees, give other practices the opportunity to talk, and give these students a full array of things to consider", Ken Bouyer, Americas Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting at E&Y, said in an interview with AccountingWEB.

Jim Turley, Chairman and CEO; Nancy Altobello, Americas Vice Chair, People; and Dan Black, Americas Director of Campus Recruiting, were featured speakers at the opening session of Discover E&Y. Faculty and administrators who were participating in the roundtable also attended. Presentations and interactive sessions were conducted by nearly fifty E&Y personnel, and students joined participants in the Tax Excellence Program for a networking session.

Bouyer discussed the value of partnering with colleges and universities to support diversity and inclusiveness. "Everybody needs to develop a global mind-set. We need to be prepared to work with very different people, who have a different point of view. We need to understand the cultural differences. And we need to work together with universities and business schools to do this. 

"There is a lot more focus on the diversity and inclusive issue now, starting with the right tone at the top with university administrators." 

"Universities need to focus on different areas, but they will be at different points on the diversity and inclusiveness continuum. The roundtable sessions give faculty and deans an opportunity to share best practices and see where they need to create or enhance their diversity and inclusiveness strategy. They might need to work on recruiting students and faculty from diverse communities or developing programs for high school outreach."

The Campus Diversity and Inclusiveness Roundtable is one part of E&Y's commitment to working with accounting and business educators. "E&Y professionals hold one-on-one conversations with deans and faculty during our inclusiveness visits to key campuses throughout the year. We want to know how we can codevelop diversity and inclusiveness programs", Bouyer said.

"This isn't just about recruiting. E&Y is planting seeds for the profession broadly. Diversity of thought and perspective makes the profession, the firm, client relationships that much stronger. That is the magic behind diversity."

Examples of programs that have been implemented due, in part, to the roundtable include:

  • University at Albany (SUNY): Ingrid Fisher, Chair of the Department of Accounting and Law, developed a strategy called AREA, an acronym for its mission to attract, retain, educate, and advance a diverse group into the accounting field after attending the 2010 roundtable. Through AREA, Fisher created the E&Y LEAD (leadership, education, accounting, and diversity) Scholars Program, which offers tutoring, extra study sessions, and E&Y events to increase the retention of minority accounting students.
  • Syracuse University: Susan Albring, Assistant Professor of Accounting at the Whitman School of Management, developed The Future Leaders Program after attending the roundtable in January 2011. Albring brought faculty and administrators from Whitman, admissions, and financial aid together with E&Y to host a conference for tristate-area minority students. The program, held at E&Y's New York City office, exposed more than eighty-five top high school seniors to the world of accounting and provided them with a primer about attending Syracuse University.

E&Y also supports the Young Executives of Color (YEOC) program, a high school outreach program at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington (UW). Established in 2006, YEOC is a series of business exploration workshops for local high school students of color. Students from public and private high schools throughout the Puget Sound area come to the UW campus the first Saturday of every month to explore business as an academic and career choice:

Ernst & Young has pledged $75,000 over the next three years to the Foster School of Business Undergraduate Diversity Services in support of the Young Executives of Color Program.

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