When you picture an accountant, you might imagine a bookish middle-aged man or woman. The idea of a young, socially-connected person becoming interested in accounting is probably the furthest thing from your mind. Though there are stereotypes surrounding the field of accounting, college professors and employers would benefit from attracting the newest generation into the workforce, or “Generation Z”, to the accounting field. Here’s some information about Gen Z to help do just that.
Who is Gen Z?
If you’re in the habit of labeling all young people as “Millennials”, consider that the oldest Millennials were born in 1981 – which makes them almost 40 years old. Most estimates put Gen Z births from about 1997-2012, which means that the oldest Gen Z individuals are in their early 20s. Gen Z kids grew up with digital technology such as the internet, DVRs, and social media. Because of their media access and consumption habits, they’ve been labeled “digital natives.”
What are Gen Z Values?
Gen Z isn’t all about people who know how to use iPads. They are instead a bright, capable, and very tech-savvy generation. Here are a few core values that you might want to take into consideration when trying to attract Gen Z into the accounting profession:
Gen Z is the most ethnically diverse generation in American history. Perhaps because of this fact, they are geared toward changing common narratives that hold back women, people of color, and LGBT individuals. Additionally, the concept of increasing diversity and minority representation in the workforce and the media can be a major driving point for these young people.
- Social Justice
Gen Z is connected to each other and to the rest of the world – digitally and otherwise. They’re interested in making the world a more just and equitable place for everyone, including (and maybe especially) marginalized groups of people.
- Job Security
Gen Z people crave a healthy work-life balance. In contrast to Millennial predecessors, they’re also less likely to hop from job to job. They’re also more likely to want to work at home, rather than pursuing opportunities abroad.
Why Might Gen Z be Interested in Accounting?
Here’s how the accounting profession can attract Gen Z by aligning with their values.
- Diversity & Social Justice: There are many accounting organizations that they can become a part of that are helping to retain and advance women and minorities in the field. These organizations are slowly becoming more integrated into larger accounting firms, especially in light of recent calls to action for companies to partake in social justice reform in the workplace.
- Technology driven: The accounting field is drastically changing to adapt to new technologies that enhance business practices and protocol. Due to the fact that Gen Z individuals are “digital natives”, they won’t only know how to use technology on the job, but in flexible and innovative ways, such as trying out new software, using distance-technology to connect with potential clients, and using social media to advertise a firm’s services.
- Job Security & Work-Life Balance: Grads with a bachelor’s degree in accounting start out making approximately $70,000 a year, and the in-demand field of accounting fits nicely with Gen Z ideals of attaining job security. In addition, the pandemic has also greatly changed the way traditional accounting positions were required to be on-site and in-office. With this newfound flexibility to work from home, accounting firms may be incorporating this policy more permanently now and in the future, cultivating the healthy work-life balance Gen Z seeks.
Stakeholders within the accounting profession might consider encouraging the up-and-coming Gen Z generation to consider accounting as a profession. It’s a career that allows them to maximize their expertise in technology while aligning their jobs with their core values and career goals.