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Priorities during a pandemic

  • Gary Reader, Leadership |

In common with many people, I am dealing on an hourly basis with new challenges raised by the impact of COVID-19 and the efforts of governments and business leaders to contain this virus. 

As a parent and as a businessman, I am completely in favour of a joined-up, consistent and people-focused approach to this crisis. At KPMG, our first priority is our people, and our leadership teams know that our responsibility is to set the tone for the whole organization. We have one over-riding message – public health has to come before any other priority.

KPMG people know that we want them to stay safe, that we will support them as they deal with the impact of travel restrictions, school closures, the need to care for sick relatives, and being responsible citizens within their communities. At the end of the day, we want them to feel valued by their employer, in bad times as well as good.

In KPMG, our connected and collaborative network of over 200,000 professionals is sharing approaches and lessons learned, right back from the early days of this pandemic. Colleagues in the China firm were generous with their time from the outset, speaking with partners and clients all over the world about what containment means in practice. We’re exchanging advice and ideas on how to with issues like liquidity and cash management, supply chain management, and the management and technology challenges involved in moving large parts of your workforce into homeworking. 

We are helping clients, and each other, to anticipate more accurately the impact of more stringent containment practices on business and daily life. Across all regions now, KPMG people are using remote working tools to keep member firms delivering business as usual – or as closely as possible - to clients. They are in regular contact with their leaders, and they and our clients can be assured that we are following the latest advice to preserve health and reduce infection rates.

This pandemic lets me see KPMG at its best. KPMG professionals are offering clients global perspectives on the possible impact on their businesses, and on consequences that we anticipate in the coming months and years. We are speaking with governments and subject matter experts to understand what new rules for business might emerge from this crisis, and sharing these insights within our global networks. When clients call us to ask for advice on business continuity, KPMG professionals prepare responses that draw on experiences from different industries and markets.

Underpinning all this is a global workforce – an international community - of which I am very proud. In my team, people are working well across borders and managing the changes to our working routines. We are all learning more about how to do business in a crisis, and supporting each other as we do it. 

My thoughts remain with those who have been seriously affected by COVID-19. All of us in KPMG are deeply grateful to the public health organizations, the health care workers on the frontline and those working to find a vaccine. As this crisis plays out, I wish all our clients, our people and their families’ good luck and good health.