We should all be advocates for greater diversity. Put aside the fact that it’s simply the right thing to do. Diversity – in all its forms – helps us think differently and be more effective and inclusive. Diverse organizations tend to perform better across a wide range of metrics. They can also attract more diverse talent.
As the Head of KPMG’s Global Financial Services network, I recognize I have the ability to catalyze change on this agenda. I understand that my actions can influence my organization’s success and my own personal success. And I believe that – through our global network – we have an opportunity to influence thousands of other Financial Services firms and millions of employees.
That is why I am particularly keen on being a male ally for gender diversity. To me, that means using my influence to advocate for gender equality. It means speaking up and taking action to create a more inclusive, enabling, and diverse work environment. And it means encouraging women throughout our global network to grow, thrive and lead.
Here’s what I’m doing
Male allyship means different things to different people at different organizations. I am in no position to tell you what steps you should be taking to encourage greater male allyship at your organization. What I can share, however, are some of the steps I am taking personally to become a better and more effective male ally.
- I am continuously listening and learning. As a male, I recognize I have not lived the experiences that my female counterparts have. That means I need to actively seek out and listen to diverse voices. I ask a lot of questions. I sit as an "observer" on a few women’s committees within our workplace and am co-leading a Women’s Global Financial Services Advisory Committee. I encourage the women in my network to voice their challenges and concerns.
- I am setting an example. I encourage women on my team to speak up. I treat people’s perspectives with respect. I make sure that my project teams are diverse and challenge my colleagues when I see a lack of diversity at meetings or on client teams. And, in doing so, I try to set an example for other male allies in my organization.
- I am taking action. More than listening and setting an example, I look for the root causes of the challenges women face in our firm and take action to address them. I frequently work with our HR and talent teams to create strategies that encourage inclusiveness and gender parity. I take decisive action when I hear of specific problems or challenges. I follow up and monitor progress to help ensure our actions are delivering the results we want.
- I try to create opportunity. I want to create space for women to grow and lead. And I want to reduce the influence of unconscious bias on our hiring, development and talent strategies. When considering candidates for a role, I want to see a diverse range of candidates. When we discuss succession planning, I want to understand how women, in particular, are being developed to take on those roles.
- I keep working at it. The more I learn, the more action I take and the more opportunities I create, the more effective I become at being a male ally. I don’t ever push the issue to the back of the desk. I never fool myself into believing I know everything I need to know. Indeed, I see male allyship as a core capability. And I plan to keep developing that capability continuously.
A quick postscript
I share none of this to boast or draw praise. Rather, I hope that by sharing my personal experiences and goals for being a male ally, I can inspire others to think differently about how they approach the challenge of diversity. And I hope that, in my own way, I am on the path to becoming a better male ally myself.
Throughout this article, “we”, “KPMG”, “us” and “our” refers to the global organization or to one or more of the member firms of KPMG International Limited (“KPMG International”), each of which is a separate legal entity.