‘Don’t count us out’: #MyCPAisBlack campaign promotes diversity in accountancy

WSAV NOW

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Monisha Johnson has always had a knack for numbers.

“I love it,” the certified public accountant told WSAV NOW. “I can count down all day and night.”

That fondness of math is part of why Johnson so enjoys helping people handle their finances. 

“In the world of accounting, I like it even more because not only is it about the numbers,” the Savannah native shared. “The numbers tell a story.”

There’s one figure that Johnson is not as fond of, and that’s the low percentage of CPAs that look like her locally and across the country.

Fewer than 1% of CPAs in the United States are Black, and that statistic has not budged in 40 years, according to the National Society of Black Certified Public Accountants.

The organization was founded last June to increase the number of Black CPAs within the profession.

“When you find one, it’s like finding a unicorn, but it matters so much,” Johnson said, adding that her business is made up of primarily Black clients.

“The representation matters,” she said.

It’s why Johnson is taking part in the “My CPA is Black” campaign this Black History Month.

She and other National Society of Black CPA members are encouraging their clients to share photos, videos and experiences with the #MyCPAisBlack hashtag to raise awareness and promote diversity in the accountancy field.

“When I put out the announcement to my clients, they responded immediately, ‘of course I want to help, what do you need me to do and when can I do it?’” Johnson shared.

“[It’s] just getting that message out that Black CPAs are here, representation for your Black business is here, we can speak that language to you and speak that language to your stakeholders,” she said.

“We’re here for you, and we are just as knowledgeable, just as competent, just as able to perform the same level of services as you see any other CPA do,” she added.

2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Black CPA, John W. Cromwell. Johnson shared that Mary T. Washington was the first Black woman to become a CPA in the early part of the 20th century.

“She helped found Washington, Pittman and McKeever LLC in Chicago in 1968, and it’s now one of the largest Black CPA firms in the U.S.,” Johnson said.

She says, in general, Black professionals have often been counted out because they’re thought to have made it through affirmative action. It’s something she hopes to help change with the #MyCPAisBlack campaign.

“Your Black financial professionals, give them major props right now, because they are working hard for you, especially for our Black community,” Johnson said. She notes that there’s a wealth of education and resources out there to uplift the community. 

“Now is the time to really bring wealth and economic empowerment to the forefront, and that’s one of the things that this campaign stands for, along with encouraging other aspiring minority CPAs to come to the table,” she said, “Because I need help; I can’t do it all by myself anymore!” she laughed.

Johnson encourages people who know or work with a Black CPA to participate in the campaign on social media through February my sharing images and their testimonials with the hashtag, #MyCPAisBlack.

“Black CPAs matter,” she said. “Don’t count us out.”

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