Changing the Face of Accounting



Spend 10 minutes with Brittani Shantel Jackson and two things become clear: her excitement for accounting is contagious, but she doesn’t want to be a “unicorn.” As a teaching assistant during both her undergrad and her Master’s program—and now while pursuing her PhD in Accounting—Brittani has often found herself the only Black woman in the classroom, and has had only one Black accounting professor across three university systems. “Accounting is such a promising field with so much variety to offer,” she shares. “But not everyone is given the exposure to experience its possibilities. I want to help change that – to be part of building a pipeline of diverse new talent for our profession.” Progress is being made, but it’s slow: the rate of participation among Black accountants drops at each career step, and only 1% of CPAs employed by public accounting firms are Black.[1]

Brittani is undeterred by the stats. She points to teachers, mentors, and professors who encouraged her along the way, as well as programs like PwC’s minority internships and the PhD Project that have helped her education and career unfold. She herself became part of the accounting pipeline at the age of 7. “My dad managed the books for my grandfather’s landscaping business, and my older sister and I were drawn to that financial side from an early age. We had a front-row seat to how important accounting is to any business venture.” While her sister pursued a corporate accounting track, Brittani was drawn to teaching. She proudly promotes her CPA status and encourages her university students to pursue the CPA path, but is also generous with her knowledge outside of the classroom. “It’s always shocking how many small business owners do not know how to find a CPA, why they should hire one, or all the services we can provide them,” she says, noting that creative entrepreneurs like influencers, hairdressers, and photographers often struggle with building a business around what they love. She regularly shares her expertise via social media, conferences, podcasts, visits to Detroit Public Schools, and mentorships to explain the importance of bookkeeping, CPAs, and tax and financial planning.

Brittani is eager to help future CPAs recognize these possibilities and more. She sees accounting opportunities everywhere, and uses modern-day examples that students can relate to, just as she did to her grandfather’s business. One of her favorite examples centers on hip-hop’s royal couple. “I always tell young people that a CPA was involved in the merger and acquisition—otherwise known as a marriage—between Beyoncé and Jay-Z. That gets a laugh, but it also gets them thinking.”

There’s no doubt that Brittani is becoming an influencer in her own right. For three consecutive years, she has served as a speaker for the Kelley School of Business Accounting Leadership Weekend, encouraging underrepresented students to pursue a one-year MSADA degree (and a CPA license). After earning her PhD in Accounting from Indiana University in 2023, Brittani plans to pursue tenure at a top-tier university where she can combine teaching with research to help build a strong pipeline of underrepresented accountants. In doing so, she’ll be setting a powerful example for her students—and helping to transform the profession she loves.

We’re recognizing stories like Brittani’s leading up to our very first Michigan CPA Appreciation Day on October 25th. Stay tuned for more examples of how your MICPA colleagues are making a difference and share your story on social media tagging the MICPA and using the hashtags #CPAAppreciationDay and #CPAPride.

Source: MICPA

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