Entering the Accounting Profession: The Operationalization of Ethnicity-Based Discrimination
Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 29 (8), pp.1342 – 1366
Posted: 2 May 2018
Date Written: December 14, 2016
The purpose of this paper is to offer a Bourdieu-oriented study that investigates race discrimination when graduates of diverse ethnicities aspire to enter the accounting profession. This study illustrates the benefits of a careful and fine-grained operationalization of ethnicity for such a research project.
The cohort interviewed comprises 45 participants of 20 different ethnicities. From this interview data, it appears that employers mostly favour “Pakeha” New Zealanders (the non-Maori ethnic majority group, mostly of British origin); those who migrated from China and East Asia are the most disfavoured; between them are those of ethnic minorities brought up in New Zealand and those who migrated from the Indian subcontinent and South Asia. Underneath the experience of discrimination is the operationalization of ten subtle factors, and a range of strategies adopted to overcome such factors, as further described in this study.
The findings may permit stakeholders, including professional bodies, employers, aspirant accountants, vocational counsellors, and those who have interests in promoting equality and meritocracy in the accounting profession, to formulate effective rules and structures to combat discrimination. It may also inform those in other professions seeking to lessen ethnic discrimination, and wider society.
The study fills a gap in the accounting literature by elaborating on the mechanisms of how ethnic minorities are discriminated against. It confirms that discrimination is suffered not only by the most salient ethnic groups, but by graduates of “Western” universities, of many and diverse ethnicities, all of whom suffer being perceived as “outsiders”.
Keywords: Ethnicity, Accounting Profession, Mechanisms, Discrimination, Bourdieu’s Theory
JEL Classification: J15, M40, O57, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation