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KPMG pulls sponsorship of LSE sports union over ‘offensive’ leaflets

KPMG has pulled its sponsorship of the London School of Economics (LSE) athletics union (AU) after the institution’s men’s rugby club distributed ‘offensive’ leaflets at its Freshers’ Fair.

The “homophobic”, “misogynistic” and “classist” flyers were confiscated soon after complaints were made to the student union.

The decision to pull funding was made just a week after the Big Four firm admitted that the class, gender, ethnic and sexual orientation of its staff failed to reflect the make-up of wider British society or its client base.

It vowed to address the oversight, and unveiled a detailed diversity profile of its 11,500 staff. It also announced targets over the next three years to benchmark itself and recruit and develop its workforce accordingly.

A spokesman for KPMG said: “KPMG sponsors a number of university sports teams as part of its support of university-level sport in the UK. KPMG in no way supports derogatory comments made towards any individual or group and after speaking to the club to raise our concerns over recent issues we agreed to end the current arrangement.”

Earlier this month, thousands of current and former female KPMG employees in the US were given the opportunity to join a class action lawsuit against the firm.
Some 9,000 women who work or have worked at KPMG since October 2008 were emailed with details about a collective action that challenges alleged pay discrimination at the US firm.

The notice was approved by US district judge Lorna Schofield on 3 October. The action revolves around former KPMG manager Donna Kassman, who spent 17 years working in the firm’s New York office before resigning, then claiming that she and other females suffered gender discrimination. The firm has been accused of developing a hostile work environment in which women are underpaid and rarely promoted to leadership roles.

A KPMG spokesman said it would “not comment on pending litigation other than to note that plaintiffs’ allegations are without merit, and KPMG will vigorously defend itself”.

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