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With women and people of color joining the accounting industry at an increasing rate, firms are faced with the job of creating more inclusive environments in a traditionally white, male-dominated, “up-or-out” culture. Although a certain amount of attrition is built into the business model for professional services firms, accounting firms can no longer afford high turnover among talented professionals. For the first time, Catalyst was able to benchmark the experiences of women of color against other demographic groups in the workforce. Findings showed that:

  • Women of color had more in common with men of color than with white women in their attitudes regarding exclusivity of the work environment and their perceptions that practices intended to support inclusion were not as effective as they could be.
  • Most importantly, women of color experienced “intersectionality” in that they faced many barriers to a greater extent than did white women or men of color.
  • Many of these barriers relate to difficulty in navigating a client-based environment, and include lack of similar role models, stereotyping, a greater level of exclusion from networks, and difficulty in accessing high-visibility assignments and business development opportunities.

Lead Sponsor: Ernst & Young
Contributing Sponsors: Deloitte & Touche; KPMG; PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP