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KPMG outs itself as firm that must address diversity imbalance

KPMG has admitted that the class, gender, ethnic and sexual orientation of it staff does not reflect the make-up of wider British society or its client base.

And in order to begin addressing the oversight, it has unveiled a detailed diversity profile of its 11,500 staff. The Big Four firm also announced targets over the next three years to benchmark itself and recruit and develop its workforce accordingly. The firm says it now has the most detailed set of targets of its industry group.

Simon Collins, KPMG’s UK chairman (pictured) said: “The diversity profile of the workforce across the professional services industry does not reflect society or our client base. We need to change and I believe a crucial part of achieving a meaningful shift is providing more transparency of the make-up of our current staff against where we would like to be. It’s uncomfortable but we need to step up and be open and honest about the challenges we face. Greater transparency means we can be scrutinised against the targets we set ourselves. It means we can test the success of our inclusivity programmes and demonstrate that we are serious about this issue.

“We certainly don’t underestimate the scale of the challenge we have set. For example, we need to double the number of female audit partners to hit our gender target. Our overall numbers on ethnicity are good but, for example, we know we need to do much more to support black professionals as less than 1% of our partners are black.”

Currently, just 15% of its partners and less than a quarter (23%) of its directors are female, against 2018 targets of 25% and 36% respectively. Senior managers – the potential directors and partners of the future – fare better at 36%, with a three year goal of 46%.

Significantly more work needs to be done with its black professional intake, with less than 1% of its partners hailing from that profile, against a target of 2.2% by 2018. Just 1.2% of its directors are black (2018 target – 4.4%), while 2% of its senior managers are against a 4.1% objective.

Its profiling revealed that only 1.2% of its workforce is disabled (2.8% target), while 3% declared themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (4.1% goal).

Stephen Frost, KPMG’s head of diversity and inclusion said: “We are determined to have the best visibility of our staff’s diversity profile within our industry. In July, we asked our staff to complete a diversity profile, which included race, gender, disability, sexual orientation and education levels. We are now confident that we have the best understanding of our staffing mix, comparable to public sector organisations which have led the way historically.

“In positive news, 93% of the firm completed the form on a voluntary basis but there’s still work to do. For example, a meaningful number of people are unwilling, or feel they are unable, to disclose their sexual orientation.”

KPMG has also announced the promotion of 102 directors, swelling that tier’s rank to 871 – a 13% uplift on 2013. A fifth are female.

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The Practitioner

  • Morgan Lobb

    Well done to KPMG for recognising the problem, having the honesty to announce it publically and putting a line in the sand as a marker on which to move forward positively.
    Organisations such as KPMG are an important market indicator that diversity is to be taken seriously as a competitive advantage.

  • James

    What about having the appropriate number of dyscalculics?

    Following the 2012 Survey, the ONS Reported that 1.5% of people described themselves as gay etc. So why do KPMG aim for 4.1%

    It also reported that 1/5 were smokers. Is that another one of KPMGs aims?

    http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/integrated-household-survey/integrated-household-survey/january-to-december-2012/stb-integrated-household-survey-january-to-december-2012.html#tab-Key-findings

    What about churchgoers? or to be balanced atheists?
    What about the best person for the job?

    Presumably they are looking to gain/ avoid losing any government contracts.

  • Jamie Crampton

    Sorry but I don’t get all this diversity stuff. Surely to actively state that your firm is looking to increase the number of females/minorities/disabled etc is to discriminate against those who don’t fit into that category? If I were going for a job at KPMG I would be wondering if being a straight white non-disabled male would have me at a disadvantage….

  • Not many firms will recognise, let alone acknowledge that they need to do this work. So congrats to KPMG.

    The question is, what will you do with it – traditional E&D training; I hope not. How about exploring a “Working with Difference” model with Equality Edge. It will certainly be enlightening.

  • Edward

    I cannot speak for how KPMG awards internships or roles, but elsewhere in the city I have come across a dismaying culture where the occupation of the parents of the prospective employee have played a key part in the decision as to whether to employ of their child. Jobs and placements are given to the children of Partners and Directors in order to curry favour with them and hopefully win future work, regardless of their ability. Such recuitment decisions limit social mobility, prevent a meritocratic workplace and limit diversity. If a big 4 firm were to publicly acknowledge this issue and seek to address it (maybe using similar rules that help avoid racial discrimination in the assessment of school exam papers e.g. hiding applicants names) then I would really start to take notice.

  • Edward

    A big issue that is limiting workplace diversity is how internships and entry level recruitment is decided, something this statement by KPMG does not address. I cannot speak for KPMG but elsewhere it appears common practice to provide internships or hire graduates based on the occupation of the parents of the prospective employee. The children of Partners and Directors seem to dominate internship roles or disproportionately occupy graduate roles. A key consideration for many companies being the possibility that hiring the children of these industry leaders will help curry favour with them and potentially help win new work. Individuals from working class backgrounds, without these contacts in their favour, are disadvantaged at the very start of their careers, despite potentially being more capable than their well connected counterparts. Such recruitment policies inhibit social mobility, are anit-meritocratic and reduce diversity (the artcile does thankfully refer to class as one of the categories of diversity).