EY’s Big Investment in Diverse Accountants

June 15, 2015 3:22 pm

By Barbara Frankel

Photo by Shutterstock

Photo by Shutterstock

While many companies bemoan the increasing shortage of skilled younger workers, particularly from under-represented groups, EY is addressing the challenge by building its own talent.

The firm has announced a major expansion of its EY Scholars Master’s Program, which covers up to 100% of tuition and fees for students receiving a master’s degree in accounting.  The students, all of whom are past EY college interns, commit to working for the firm when they finish their schooling.

EY is investing more than $1.5 million to raise the number of participating schools from 2 (Notre Dame and the University of Virginia) to more than 30, including Pennsylvania State University, Georgetown University, the University of Southern California and the University of Michigan) and raise the number of participating students from 17 to 53. The practices involved in the program also are growing from just audit and insurance to including tax.

“We felt there was a need to create more leaders in the firm from under-represented groups and this program has been extremely successful,” says Ken Bouyer, EY Americas Diversity & Inclusiveness Recruiting Leader.

The firm recruits about 9,000 college hires a year, including interns, with about 36% Black, Latino, Asian or Native American.  Of the 4,000 interns, about 20% are from these racial/ethnic groups. EY notes that in the last fiscal year, its college recruiting of Black, Latino and Native American students was up 40%.

The EY Scholars Program began in 2000 and so far has supported more than 400 students, some of whom are now executive directors at the firm.  All of the students participating are either Black, Latino, Asian or Native American.

According to the 2013 AICPA Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits, students of the following ethnicities were enrolled in master’s programs in accounting from 2011-2012: 62% white, 15% Asian/Pacific Islander, 5% Hispanic/Latino, 5% Black/African American, and 0.3% American Indian/Alaskan Native.

One of those students is Rebecca Galindo, who will be starting a master’s of accounting program at the University of Southern California this fall.  Rebecca, a Latina, has had three summer internships with EY as part of its LAUNCH program and knows that’s where she wants to work full-time when she is done with school.

“All the recruiters tell you the same thing. The big selling point at a firm is the people.  But you don’t experience that until you go to work there,” she says.  She has been at the Los Angeles office for her internships and this summer will spend half the time at EY’s Perth Australia office, getting a more global perspective.

Why did Rebecca chose accounting in the first place? She was attracted to the organizational aspects but learned, especially through her internships, that accounting is very people-oriented. “There is a very big misconception that accountants sit in a back room with a calculator.  I learned during the internships how to work with teams, meet with clients and be a consultant.” She says.

Rebecca, who has been president of a student organization, a varsity tennis captain and an AP scholar, says her EY internships have taught her valuable lessons as she prepares to enter the workplace.

“As an intern, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have the job yet. You need to keep working at it. You have to keep your mind focused on the goal at this stage in your career process.”