Results from Bloomberg Tax & Accounting’s 2021 Diversity & Inclusion Survey reveal that despite recent years of increasing awareness and public scrutiny on the subject, the tax industry has not significantly advanced race and gender diversity within accounting firms and corporate tax departments. The 2021 survey followed up on the 2017 D&I Survey to identify where progress was made, or setbacks arose. The survey received 169 respondents from accounting firms (100+ employees and $10M+ in annual revenue) and 165 respondents from corporations ($500M+ in annual revenue).

[Read more about diversity and inclusion in the tax industry.]

Race and gender in management roles

The tax and accounting profession is not tracking demographic trends. While there is an increase in females in manager level roles in corporate tax department, race and gender demographics within high-level roles within the tax industry are not representative of the general U.S. population and still skew White (non-Hispanic or Latino) and male. While race and gender diversity remains relatively homogenous, with White males making up the majority across roles in 2021, there is one exception: Women represent 50% of the manager-level roles in corporations. This is a 5% increase from 2017. This data presents recruitment, retention, and talent development opportunities.

Diversity and inclusion is an increasing priority for corporate tax departments

Accounting firm respondents were less likely in 2021 than in 2017 to report that diversity and inclusion are important to clients. In contrast, corporate tax respondents were more likely to indicate in 2021 than in 2017 that diversity and inclusion are important in decisions related to retaining firms. In addition, more corporate tax respondents in 2021 than in 2017 indicated that their company has a D&I strategy in place.

There are challenges to advancing D&I

Both accounting firms and corporations identified multiple impediments to advancing D&I at their companies. A top challenge identified by accounting firms and corporate tax departments is the limited pipeline for top talent to join their firms/organizations. The challenge second-most identified by accounting firm respondents is other commitments and/or lack of support for non-billable work, while the challenge second-most identified by corporate tax respondents is senior leadership teams that do not adequately represent diverse backgrounds. Both accounting firm and corporate tax respondents suggest their firms/organizations should revamp their recruitment strategies, increase cultural training and D&I dialogue, and increase firm/organization-wide visibility on D&I metrics as ways of advancing D&I within their firms/organizations.

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