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Building a culture of integrity

  • Larry Bradley, Leadership |

KPMG recently refreshed its firm-wide Values which guide our behaviors day-to-day, informing how we act, the decisions we make, and how we work with each other, our clients, companies that we audit, and all our stakeholders. All of these Values are critical, but one that really resonates with me is Integrity.

At KPMG, integrity means always doing the right thing, and we embody this in our unwavering commitment to quality. For me, part of this commitment to quality includes taking an “I own it” approach where everyone is accountable and owns their part in driving quality and contributing to KPMG’s culture of integrity. Our professionals in the KPMG network work hard every day to live up to our core values and we have embedded them into everything that we do. Each of us has a responsibility to serve the public interest and demonstrate the highest levels of integrity through every action they take, every day.

It is important now more than ever with COVID-19 pushing us to think differently about our business and how we engage our people, clients and stakeholders that integrity remains one of our core values, and we do what is right, in the right way, at the right time.

How are we doing this within audit at KPMG? I have personally been inspired by KPMG in South Africa, and the leadership of Ignatius Sehoole, CEO. Ignatius was appointed as CEO of KPMG South Africa in June 2019 and has been working to rebuild trust with the public and South African business community and the audit profession more broadly as well. Ignatius believes that public trust in the audit profession must be rebuilt by every individual involved in the financial reporting, not just auditors.

Our vision at KPMG is to be the most trusted and trustworthy professional services firm. This cannot be achieved if the culture isn’t right, and if every individual doesn’t take accountability for their role in driving trust and quality. He also feels strongly that being a part of KPMG means being ethical and accountable wherever they go – not just during working hours. “There’s only one you, and that’s the you that is a part of KPMG. We’re a family, and these are the rules of the family, and if you can’t live by the rules, then you can’t be part of the family. It’s as simple as that.”

Ignatius believes that building a culture of accountability and ethics within the firm is a crucial part of moving KPMG forward. To this end, they have appointed a new Chief Ethics Officer.

Ignatius says that people should hold each other accountable. “I want people to say to me, ‘Ignatius, how does what you say stack up to what you are doing?’ People should hold each other accountable. It’s not only my responsibility to make sure people are acting ethically. Everyone has that responsibility.”

Our ultimate responsibility as auditors is to perform quality audits that serve the public interest. This resonates with Ignatius who believes that “We need to take the public interest responsibility very seriously, and we ingrain that in our people from the very first moment that they join the firm. Their first and foremost duty is to the public interest, not to me, not to our clients or to the firm.”

I’m proud of the work and progress Ignatius and the South African firm have made over the last year. We know that this is an ongoing journey, and I’m excited to see how everyone at KPMG continues to build on our core Values and create a culture of integrity and accountability.

I’m committed to taking an ‘I own it’ approach to quality and integrity at KPMG and in all aspects of my life. I hope you are too. I’d love to hear what integrity means to you so please get in touch to share your thoughts.