Diversity, Equity, Belonging and Inclusion

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage in Accounting: Increasing Focus on Latino CPAs

Accountant working at her desk representing Hispanic Heritage Month and Latino CPAs

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to take the opportunity to recognize the progress that Hispanic and Latino CPAs have made in the field as well as share resources and opportunities to increase diversity and representation in the accounting profession.

Latino representation in the accounting industry

When we talk about diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion (DEBI), statistics help provide context and create a snapshot of the existing landscape.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Hispanic and Latino people make up about 18.7 percent of the total population. However, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), reported in 2018 that only 4 percent of CPAs identify as a part of this group. This gap creates concerns related to how new Latino CPAs can access opportunities and resources, network with people from their population, and connect with experienced mentors. A lack of representation means fewer role models and mentors to guide upcoming professionals in navigating the often challenging career pathways.

Fortunately, we can expect these numbers to increase, as the AICPA released a trends report in 2018 showing that Hispanic and Latino people represented 15 percent of graduates with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and 16 percent of those graduating with a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting.

Fostering the next generation

As younger generations with larger populations of Latino people step into roles vacated by retiring Baby Boomers—with a report by the Pew Research Center indicating that six in 10 Latinos are Millennials or younger—recruitment and mentorship are becoming increasingly essential to raising the representation of Latino people in the accounting and finance fields.

The Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) and similar organizations are critical to these efforts. ALPFA was founded in 1972 and has grown into one of the largest minority-focused business and accounting organizations in the United States with nearly 100,000 members. The group offers scholarship opportunities, skills development workshops, and networking with key hiring professionals to foster opportunities and increase representation.

Mentorship is a key area of focus as it is an integral aspect of career development, particularly for minority groups. Having a mentor who can relate to your background, language, and culture can bridge gaps, create opportunities, and provide a sense of community and belonging. This also helps Latino and Hispanic accounting students navigate the complexities of the accounting industry—from landing the first job to understanding the various accounting certifications and specializations available.

Resources for Hispanic and Latino accounting students and professionals


Steps to improve diversity in accounting

The accounting industry must make improvements to increase Hispanic and Latino representation - and to help level the playing field for Hispanic and Latino students and CPA prospects. Here are some specific steps that should be taken:

Address the leadership gap

Hispanic and Latino leaders continue to be underrepresented in the executive ranks of the accounting industry, with only 16 percent gaining employment as CPAs and 9 percent taking on roles as partners, according to the AICPA. Companies need to be intentional about developing executive talent from Hispanic and Latino backgrounds.

Enhance cultural inclusivity and representation

Accounting firms must adapt their practices to be more inclusive and accessible to the Hispanic community. In regions where the Latino and Hispanic population is higher, businesses are creating bilingual materials and offering services in both English and Spanish.

Hiring Hispanic accountants can bridge the cultural gap and build trust within the community. Moreover, firms should match their internal representation with that of their customer base to ensure that marketing messages resonate with a diverse audience.

Invest in global talent pools and support cross-cultural training

The accounting industry should invest in bringing in more diverse talent and developing cross-cultural skills throughout the organization. It’s especially important for leadership in the organization to embrace a multicultural office and prioritize diversity in the workplace. Seeking thoughts from underrepresented groups is crucial for an inclusive work environment.

Building opportunities for Hispanic and Latino CPAs

Achieving diversity isn't just a moral obligation; it's a business imperative. A diverse team brings together multiple perspectives, skills, and ideas, making for a richer, more effective working environment. While the accounting industry is making progress toward becoming a more diverse workforce, there is still more to do.

To Latino and Hispanic accounting students and professionals: Your unique perspective is invaluable. You are the future of this industry, and you deserve every opportunity to succeed.

To businesses: Take actionable steps to encourage diversity. By doing the work now, we can create an equitable and inclusive future for everyone in the accounting profession.

To learn more about how to improve diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion, download our guide, "Building a DEBI-focused culture" from our content hub.

Now Leaving Becker.com

You are leaving the Becker.com website. Once you click “continue,” you will be brought to a third-party website. Please be aware, the privacy policy may differ on the third-party website. Adtalem Global Education is not responsible for the security, contents and accuracy of any information provided on the third-party website. Note that the website may still be a third-party website even the format is similar to the Becker.com website.