KPMG’s Kristine T. Remedios on Leveling the Playing Field To Create Equitable Access to Opportunities

Originally published at home.kpmg. Kristine T. Remedios is KPMG International’s Global Head of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. KPMG ranked No. 16 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.

 

While inclusion and diversity is all about creating a safe environment where everyone feels valued for their unique contributions and perspectives, equity is about access to opportunities.

We recognize at KPMG that our work relies on the intellectual breadth, talent and skills of our people, and our diversity expands our capacity to solve complex problems. By helping to level the playing field, we want to ensure everyone can succeed and thrive. There is an expectation from our people, our clients and broader society that we have a robust inclusion, diversity and equity agenda — linked to the S in ESG, our KPMG Impact Plan and our Trust and Growth ambition.

As a refugee who came to Canada as a young child, and as a woman who has worked her way up through the corporate ranks, I can speak firsthand to the importance of equity in the workplace. As a wife and mother of two young children, I want my kids to experience a working environment where every employee can fulfill their potential, regardless of who they are or where they’re from.

This is core to why we made the decision, in collaboration with KPMG firms around the world, to include the word ‘Equity’ in our name, and why KPMG’s new Global Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (IDE) policy is so significant.

This policy is part of an IDE Collective Action Plan that spans across every one of the 145 KPMG firms. My hope is that each of KPMG’s 236,000 people feel safe and empowered at work, so they can perform to the best of their ability. Because that’s when our people can truly shine and in turn, bring excitement, innovation and passion to our colleagues, clients and communities.

 

We heard from our people

In July 2020, we invited our people to take part in a series of digital conversations on anti-Black racism, sharing their lived experiences and thoughts on how we can collaborate to help make KPMG more inclusive for all. Over 17,000 of our colleagues across 120 countries and territories took part, and these incredibly honest discussions helped us recognize that while we had made progress, there was more to be done.

It ultimately led to our broader IDE Collective Action Plan, owned by our global and local leaders, which sets out the steps we will take to drive inclusion, diversity and equity inside the global organization and within the communities we are proud to serve. And most importantly, it was created with our people’s input. We identified three pillars to build our plan around: (1) an inclusive culture, built on trust; (2) an educated, empathetic workforce; and (3) be an advocate for equal opportunity.

With our new IDE policy, we have the structure to bring this plan to life, with a clear set of actions and goals to aspire toward. Progress is tracked and reported for all to see and leaders are accountable for meeting goals, working with the Global IDE Council.

A policy ensures a consistent approach to IDE worldwide while acknowledging that various KPMG firms have different starting points. Each KPMG firm’s Head of People and Head of IDE is responsible for implementation, with a global steering group reviewing the policy every two years.

The policy is flexible enough to fit into local cultures and laws, without compromising its essential principles. Most importantly, these initiatives have been created with our people’s input.

 

Moving the dial on equity

Our IDE policy reaches into recruitment and subsequent career development and retention, HR policies as well as training in inclusive leadership and unconscious bias.

In doing so, it’s important to distinguish between equity and equality, it’s easy to forget that not everyone starts from the same place due to social class, race, gender identity or disability which can lead to a lack of confidence and support in accessing opportunities.

That’s why we focus on equity, which means considering personal circumstances when we recruit, onboard, train and develop people so that we can level the playing field and enable our people to feel that they can truly bring their whole selves to work.

 

Leveling the playing field

IDE is about belonging and feeling valued. It’s about embracing differences and taking a stand against traditional, systemic barriers and biases.

While we all believe in creating an inclusive, diverse and equitable workplace, we often need help in translating our good intentions into decisive action, to create a workplace where good people can achieve great things.

Our IDE policy, as part of our wider action plan, gives us the structure and the momentum to make this a reality, so that our future generations grow up in a fairer world.

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