KPMG aims for a third of its employees to be working class



Jon Holt

Big Four accountancy firm KPMG is aiming for 29% of its partners and directors to come from working class backgrounds by 2030.

The target comes as the firm published its socio-economic background pay gaps for the first time as part of the firm’s Environmental, Social and Governance plan: Our Impact.

The plan has meant that KPMG has become one of the first organisations to publish its socio-economic background pay gaps and set out ambitious targets to increase the number of senior employees from working-class backgrounds.

The new data measures pay gaps between colleagues from different socio-economic backgrounds by looking at their parental occupation. This method of measurement is recommended by social mobility experts, such as the Bridge Group, as the most robust and reliable indicator of socio-economic background.

When analysing the data of colleagues from different socio-economic backgrounds (including partners) the firm recorded overall pay gaps of:

  • Professional versus working class background: median 8.6%; mean -1.1%
  • Professional versus intermediate background: median 2.2%; mean 3.2%
  • Intermediate versus working class background: median 6.6%; mean -4.5%

Detailed analysis of the data reveals that while KPMG’s senior and junior colleagues are its most socio-economically diverse cohorts, working-class representation in middle management grades is comparatively lower and this is contributing to the pay gaps.

To address this, KPMG will focus on colleagues’ pathways into and through the organisation, from recruitment to progression - removing any potential barriers facing those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

This work will include new recruitment programmes dedicated to bringing in talent from lower socio-economic backgrounds at middle management and senior levels. 

The firm has also said it will introduce new mandatory training to all colleagues on socio-economic background and create a talent development programme aimed at colleagues from lower socio-economic backgrounds. KPMG added that it would use parental occupation as a key measure within HR processes.

To drive even greater progress, KPMG has introduced the firm’s first ever socio-economic background representation target, which will aim to see 29% of its partners and directors come from a working class background by 2030. Currently 23% of the firm’s partners and 20% of its directors are from a working class background and working class representation across KPMG’s Board is 22% and 14% in its Executive Committee.

Bina Mehta, chair of KPMG in the UK, said: “The publication of this data builds on our concerted efforts over a number of years to track and measure the socio-economic make-up of our workforce.

“It’s only through this focus and level of transparency that we’re able to hold ourselves to account to take targeted action that will help create a fairer and more equitable society.

“I’m a passionate believer that greater diversity in all its aspects improves business performance. Diversity brings fresh thinking and different perspectives to decision making, which in turn delivers better outcomes for our clients.”

Jon Holt, chief executive of KPMG in the UK, added: “We know that investors, clients, employees and communities want greater transparency from business, and our Impact Plan is just the start. But by taking this important step in reporting and giving more details about the way we run our business, we’re measuring our progress and holding ourselves to account to ensure that opportunities are open to all.”

Tags: KPMG



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