Dear Members, Partners & Friends,
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture came from the article
President Obama's message to my son: Clark, dream big dreams'
" (The Guardian, 01/13/17). According to Clark's mother, the picture debuted on
and has since floated around on the internet. It was even featured on President Barack Obama's website last month. In light of the election results, recent events and the current climate in Washington, it is particularly powerful image to reflect on as we enter Black History Month.
Black History Month is an important opportunity for us to celebrate the important contributions and achievements of blacks throughout our history, including black people that have been trailblazing in the field of accounting. Now, more than ever, we must raise our voices to celebrate - and, where necessary, insist - that society continue to recognize black leaders, businesses, artists, educators, culture and tradition. Over the coming weeks, we will each experience moments of joy, honor, activism and reflection. But it's more than sharing stories to remind us of how far we have come. It is also an opportunity to deepen our commitment to educate, engage and empower.
Today, blacks compose less than one percent of all CPAs, but that proportion represents a vast increase over the numbers of just a few years ago. When
was formed in 1969, blacks and other minorities faced significant obstacles across the profession - from gaining acceptance into undergraduate accounting programs to overcoming laws barring blacks from sitting for the CPA exam, from getting hired to being recognized and promoted in accounting departments and firms. NABA became a vehicle through which minority professionals could be assisted as they climbed the corporate ladder, pursued the CPA credential designation, and worked their way up to Partner or CFO is companies and firms. NABA's motto is "Lifting As We Climb," which is embodied in its official logo depicting two interlocked hands, with one pulling the other up. The image denotes both the political struggle NABA faced at its founding and the goal of helping future generations of accounting professionals. It is integral to our operation model, where we leverage insights from experienced professionals to mentor students entering the profession and provide development opportunities for young professionals as they embark on an accounting career.
Our corporate partners are more committed than ever to creating diverse and inclusive work environments. The evidence is clear - diversity makes us smarter, enhances creativity, improves the bottom line, and results in a happier, more connected workforce. In fact, some studies go so far as to suggest that simply being exposed to diversity can change the way a person thinks. As we strive to grow membership and form new chapters, we will continue our tradition of facilitating authentic connections and meaningful networks. At the same time, we are working hard to develop new programs that equip members with tools and resources, build leadership competencies and offer new and challenging job opportunities. We are also focused on providing our partners with more development and networking opportunities to support their retention efforts, as well as new targeted recruitment events to attract experienced top-level talent.
2016 definitely provided us with some challenging moments and created an increased level of anxiety and uncertainty as we entered into the new year. However, we did have some achievements to celebrate:
- The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington, DC
- There were 11 black billionaires on earth
- Black athletes won 46 gold, 37 silver and 38 bronze medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janerio
- 6 black actors were nominated for Academy Awards this year (18 nominations for blacks across all categories)
- Georgetown University apologized for its role in slavery announced plans to atone for its past
- The U.S. Chess Hall of Fame named their first black Grandmaster since 1984
- Channing Dungey, ABC Entertainment President, became the first black person to lead programming at a major broadcast network
One achievement stands out as a key turning point in the profession. It came last October when Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, CPA, CGMA became the first black Chairman of the AICPA. She is also the youngest, the fifth female, and only one of a few Chairs from business & industry. Kimberly is a Lifetime member and believes that NABA and AICPA are stronger together. She is committed to facilitating increased interaction between AICPA and NABA and a continuing - if not increasing - focus on talent development and inclusion at AICPA and throughout the accounting profession. Now THAT is a big step in the right direction! We will continue to celebrate black trailblazers in the profession all month long.
Our work this fiscal year so far has been focused on internal and administrative infrastructure changes. But that is about to change. Over the coming weeks, we will begin working on several new projects such as enhancing our chapter support models and building out new advocacy and thought leadership platforms. Our goal is to develop member-centric models for advocacy, programs development and delivery, and stakeholder engagement. To do that, we will be looking for members interested in providing input, offering feedback, and sharing ideas. Please watch for sign-up opportunities up-coming newsletters. We need and welcome you joining our efforts to create new achievements and history!
Jina Etienne, CPA, CGMA
President & CEO
Steven L. Harris, CPA
Chairman of the Board