Our Bold Ambition

We learn. We share. We grow.

It's our Bold Ambition for the public company audit profession to pave the way towards a more inclusive, future state of community.

Our focus

We are committed to making change.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is more than just an idea: it is an action. The accounting profession is committed to working collectively to make its own community reflective of the one it serves.


Total investments from the firms


Average firm goal for increasing workforce diversity



We are committed to a

Through education and action from policymakers, academia, the media, stakeholders, and the public company audit profession itself, Bold Ambition is paving the way for our collective vision of diversity and inclusion to drive better business outcomes. One initiative, Accounting+, recognizes the gap in African American, Black, and Hispanic accounting students and professionals. Accounting+ serves as a resource to educate, encourage, and facilitate the adoption of accounting as a career path.

Our focus


Change starts in our own offices, in our own homes and in our communities.

Wayne Berson, Chief Executive Officer, BDO

“Feeling free to be myself at work”

is a key driver of engagement.

+7 points

higher retention

+10 points

higher revenue growth

+6 points

higher gross margin

Progressive actions are being taken amongst firms across the accounting profession. Transparency and continued measurement leads to accountability - and through understanding workforce dynamics, concerns, opportunities, and challenges, we create a more inclusive, higher performing workforce that delivers improved business results.

"Through appointing a Chief Diversity Officer, efforts are being reflected by top level management to drive a culture of inclusion in line with the firm's vision and strategy."

"Our Multicultural Alliance employee inclusion group serves as a valuable resource for professionals and cultivates a supportive community through in-person and virtual networking, volunteer events, mentoring, and professional development."

"Implicit bias training helps professionals identify common bias and teaches ways to slow thinking to make better decisions. All new hires complete the implicit bias training and it is considered a core leadership requirement and as such, valuable criterion for promotion."


We need to have a different conversation on what it means to have a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture to drive further and faster change.

Leslie Patterson, EY Americas and US Diversity, Equity & Inclusiveness Leader

Our resources

What can accounting do to be more inclusive?

Historically, students in higher education have not reflected the racial and ethnic demographics of our nation. And while more recent census data indicates educational attainment has increased across all student body demographics, these trends have not translated to increased diversity in the accounting profession’s talent pipeline for Black and Hispanic students specifically.

Read the January 2022 reportRead the July 2023 report


If it's not feeding your goals and your soul, it's not going to do anything for you. I'm all about bettering myself... that's why it has to be challenging and why I have to love what I'm doing.

Black, 4YC, Business

Top tier career priorities

With regard to career decisions, Black and Hispanic students prioritize working in an environment that is welcoming to people of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds. Other top priorities connect to personal fulfillment and growth versus benefits related to a specific employment opportunity, like starting salary or travel opportunities.

Importantly, the research demonstrated that items pertaining to personal fulfillment and growth, versus starting salary and other employment benefits, are the most important factors in choosing a career. It is important to highlight that, particularly for Black students, working in an environment that is welcoming to people of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds is of highest priority, and for both Black and Hispanic students, they see a lack of diversity in accounting. There is no question that many students today still see accounting as a “white profession,” with employers lacking both accountants of color and supervisors and executive leadership of color. But in order to increase diversity in the talent pipeline and actually change the face of accounting in the future, we need to focus on the additional aspects of an accounting degree which are important to these students.

Additional draws to accounting as a career

For Black and Hispanic students, future business ownership is the strongest draw when it comes to desired workplace. Both Black and Hispanic students prioritize selecting careers that will have real impact and help improve their communities through building wealth.

The research revealed students connect business degrees to entrepreneurship, and future business ownership is the strongest draw for Black and Hispanic students when it comes to desired workplace. In addition, both Black and Hispanic students prioritize selecting a career that has real impact on their communities. Hispanic students, in particular, had a strong interest in careers that will help improve their communities. These students were especially moved by the knowledge that accountants support businesses at every level. On learning that accountants who serve small business owners can make an impact locally, by helping entrepreneurs in their own communities be successful and build wealth, Hispanic students were motivated to learn more about what accountants actually do.


I wanted to do something that would help not only myself and my family, but also my community. To be able to explain to them what’s going on with their tax return.

Hispanic, CC

Varied high school students perspectives on academic journey

A vast majority of high school students report having at least some idea of what they would like to study in college. Of those Black and Hispanic students who have decided on their college major, almost a third report having made this important decision prior to attending high school. More than two-thirds of students surveyed across all demographics report having decided on their college major prior to their junior year of high school.

A plurality of high school students have “some idea” of what they want to study, with nearly a third of high school students saying they are already set on a major. The vast majority of those set on their major made their decisions before their junior year of high school. After more than two decades of national advocacy to recruit students, particularly students of color, to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers, it was not necessarily surprising that more students are pursuing STEM degrees collectively than other academic disciplines. Business, though, remains a top field of interest for both high school students and those in college, particularly when the STEM disciplines are disaggregated.

Fields/majors of interest

While many students of color express interest in or are pursuing STEM degrees in comparison to other areas of study, business is also a top field of interest amongst high school and college students. And while Black high school students report having the greatest interest in business across all surveyed demographics, there is a more significant drop-off for Black students when it comes to translating that interest into majoring in business in college.

The research identified a significant disconnect between interest in business and accounting – at both the high school and community college levels – and the actual pursuit of the accounting degree. For example, as set forth on Chart D, the research showed that while Black high school students express greater interest in business than their counterparts, there is a more significant drop-off when it comes to translating that interest into a major in business in college (11%).

Opportunities for growth from interested students to accounting majors

The same pattern of drop-off holds when considering openness to a career in accounting and those choosing to major in accounting. While greater numbers of Black and Hispanic students report having an openness to accounting, fewer Black and Hispanic students report choosing accounting as a major, compared with other student demographics.

Experiences in accounting courses by race

To better understand what is driving the drop-off between openness to accounting and, ultimately, students' decision not to pursue the degree, the research attempted to identify reasons for not pursuing accounting as a major/ minor. College business majors report having mixed experience with accounting courses, with only half of Black college students reporting a positive experience with accounting courses and less than half of Hispanic students reporting a positive experience.


I would ask people who are in the career. People I know in my family that have pursued this career, other people like family friends so that I know what I’m getting into. And ask them how they do it or questions I have about it.

Hispanic, 4YC, Accounting

Why are college students not pursuing accounting major/minors?

Black and Hispanic Business majors/ minors who considered accounting and/ or took introductory accounting courses, yet chose not to pursue accounting as a major/ minor report concerns about their skill set, not having an interest or passion for the work, and the requirements to obtain CPA licensing as the top barriers. Concerns about starting salaries and long hours are rated as significantly lesser barriers.

Driving influences for determining job/career interests

Direct exposure is one of the biggest determinants in a student’s career interests. Direct connection with mentors/role models, having a parent/guardian in the profession, and work/internship experience are the most effectual influences for students in choosing career paths. Students of color report that social media has a greater influence on potential career decisions.

For generations, professional fields have largely focused on formal channels to influence potential employees. From personality quizzes to career assessments, career counselors have sought to point students in a certain direction, believing that the data from such assessments will mean that students will follow their guidance about the field of study they should pursue. But as the student population on college campuses has dramatically changed, so too has the impact of these formal channels. Based on the research, the impact of high school guidance counselors and faculty advisors is now hit or miss. Rather, the research shows that mentors, classes, and work experiences can have the most influence because they offer direct exposure to a field, providing future accountants with access to firsthand experiences. It is about personal connection and exposure through experience. Not surprisingly, three out of four accounting majors/minors today know an accountant personally, confirming the highly influential role of personal connections. But realizing more needs to be done to increase diversity in accounting, we cannot rely solely on personal accounting connections. Focusing on increasing exposure to accounting through other personal touchpoints, like classes and work experiences, can also have a significant impact on career choice.

Who students need to hear from for careers

There is opportunity for accounting professionals at all levels and from all backgrounds to play more of an active role in advising and mentoring the next generation of accountants. Students disclose a desire to hear more about potential careers from those who could be a potential boss as well as from those working in a field with a similar background to their own.

At the end of the day, it’s about getting first-hand exposure to a career or field, so students can better understand what the field is about, whether they have the interest, and whether it would be a good fit. Increased exposure would also help to correct misconceptions many students have about accounting, thus providing a clearer understanding of what the work actually entails – i.e., it’s not all math. As set forth in Chart I, we also see opportunity for accounting professionals at all levels and from all backgrounds in playing more of an active role in advising and mentoring the next generation of accountants. Both the qualitative and quantitative research strongly suggests matching messengers/ mentors to student background is imperative – a “show not tell” requirement.


I worked in my high school’s business office and that was my first exposure to business. Just seeing behind the scenes of how something runs was really interesting to me. That’s how I started wanting to go into business.

Hispanic, 4YC

Many students of color who have demonstrated an interest in business also indicate an openness to accounting, yet there remains a significant disconnect about what a career in accounting is and how it aligns with their interests. CAQ’s research makes clear that accounting can be positioned as a career that meets student objectives, including as a path to becoming a business owner/ entrepreneur and giving back to their communities. In addition, there needs to be a focus on overcoming misconceptions about what a career in accounting is and isn’t and what skillsets are needed to be successful. While the reality of accounting closely aligns with what students seek in a career, more needs to be done to align student perceptions with the reality about what a career in accounting is and all that it has to offer.

To see CAQ’s Student Pipeline research in its entirety, click here.

What Students Say

The Center for Audit Quality has partnered with Edge Research to learn more about student awareness and perceptions of accounting, tracking how their attitudes change over time. Initially conducted in 2021, and then again in 2022, the CAQ Student Pipeline research includes both qualitative and quantitative research phases involving nearly 6,000 students, recent graduates, and adult influencers.

This research provides in-depth understanding of student perceptions of accounting and motivations and priorities for college and career decisions. The research identifies key influencers and critical touchpoints along the career journey, and differentiates perceptions and motivations by age, race/ethnicity, and/or first-generation student status.

Read the January 2022 report

Bold Ambition is supported by the Center for Audit Quality and its eight governing board firms.

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