Gender Diversity at KPMG

KPMG Australia’s boldly stated goal to significantly increase the representation of women on the board and senior leadership roles is going to take a whole-of-organisation commitment and plenty of hard work but KPMG’s National Head of People, Performance and Culture, Susan Ferrier, says it’s the only way the organisation can build a truly diverse and inclusive workforce.

“We recognise that women are under represented in senior leadership positions and that this needs to change. If we are unable to fully utilise the talents of 50 percent of our people, we can’t claim to have a truly diverse and inclusive workplace,” she said.

In addition the KPMG Australia website identifies better gender diversity as an important strategic objective: “it enhances our ability to deliver value to our clients, the foundation of our competitiveness. Admittedly it is a bold goal, but one that aligns with our values and one we believe is increasingly reflected in our firm’s culture.

Ms Ferrier says the benefits of building a more diverse workforce will drive improvements across the organisation and she says setting measureable targets is the best way of gauging success.

“Diversity enriches an organisation and enhances its competitive position. It contributes to better problem solving and decision-making, fosters greater innovation and enhances organisational effectiveness and performance. Setting targets is a tangible demonstration of our commitment to fostering diversity and improved gender representation across our firm,” she added.

KPMG has a range of initiatives in place to help it achieve its gender targets, these include:

Applying a diversity lens in recruitment and appointments for internal roles

KPMG will now require that at least one female candidate is shortlisted when recruiting a senior lateral hire or making a senior internal appointment. The successful candidate will be selected on merit but the firm will ensure that all talent is considered.

Senior leadership sponsorship

KPMG’s National Executive Committee, Board, Divisional Executives and State Chairs will participate in a program to be an effective sponsor for both male and female talent into more senior leadership roles.

Partner interviews

KPMG will conduct in-depth interviews with female partners to identify practical ways to continue to improve inclusiveness across the firm. KPMG will also hold discussion forums and focus groups to empower our female talent to build solutions for improved retention of senior women.

Flexible working pilot

KPMG will run a flexible working pilot to provide insights on the opportunities to better utilise ‘flexible working’. The pilot will involve a series of in-tact team coaching sessions, team workshops, focus groups, and internal and client stakeholder interviews over four months.

Embedding gender diversity perspective into business processes

KPMG will continue to incorporate the gender diversity perspective into business processes such as performance reviews, goal setting process and talent and succession management to ensure continuous improvement.

“Diversity and inclusion is increasingly important to our clients. We can be better advisors to our clients if we can offer greater diversity of background, thinking and capability,” said Ms Ferrier.

In line with this the firm reports on how well it is doing against its gender targets annually and internal progress on diversity and inclusion, including gender targets, is monitored by KPMG’s Diversity Advisory Board (DAB), which is comprised of partners representing all divisions and all locations. The DAB champions diversity and inclusion across all levels of the organisation and has seven key focus areas: gender, age, disability, indigenous, sexual orientation and gender identity, family and ethnicity and religion.

In addition to the targets at board and senior management level KPMG measures its success in promoting gender equality by measuring return to work rates after parental leave and female representation across the firm as a whole which they say sits at the 50 per cent mark.

KPMG’s strategies seem to be working as they were identified as an Employer of Choice for Women for six consecutive years by the former Equal Opportunities for Women in the Workplace Agency (now the Workplace Gender Equality Agency).


1. AFR article on KPMG 4 June 2014

Diversity at KPMG