KPMG wants 29% of its partners and directors in the U.K. to be from working class backgrounds by 2030.
The Big 4 firm announcement follows the forced resignation of U.K. Chairman Bill Michael after he said that unconscious bias doesn’t exist and that staff should stop “moaning” and “playing the role of victim.” The comments were made in a recorded firmwide Zoom meeting earlier this year. The Daily Mail reported that staff referred to Michael as “the Donald Trump of KPMG”
In his place came chairwoman Bina Mehta, who comes from a working class background herself. She says diversity improves business. “Diversity brings fresh thinking and different perspectives in decision-making, which in turn delivers better outcomes for our clients.” The firm defines a working class background as having parents with “routine and manual” jobs, such as plumbers, electricians, butchers and van drivers.
KPMG says staff from less privileged backgrounds earn 8.6% less than those who grew up in more affluent families. The 29% goal for both partners and directors compares with 23% of partners and 20% of directors now.
The firm’s diversity data is from a voluntary survey with 70% participation. The company will also provide training to its 16,000 employees on issues related to socio-economic background and how to recognize “invisible barriers” to success.
Nick Miller, chief executive of non-profit Bridge Group, a consulting firm, praised the goal in an interview with the BBC. “In publishing pay gaps by socio-economic background for the first time, and using this to inform a strategy for change, KPMG is leading the way.”