The last few years have brought an extraordinary amount of change at a faster rate than any of us have ever experienced. With world events challenging us to rethink the way we live, work, and shape our society.
As the world changes, many businesses take to social media to be a part of the conversation and demonstrate their support. But how do organizations make sure they go beyond these signals of support to ensure they are taking real action.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, one of the sessions, The Journey towards Racial Equity, focused on how at the height of the global Black Lives Matter movement, the anti-Asian attacks and the racial inequities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies pledged to do better in their commitment to inclusion, diversity and equity. The panel discussed what progress has been made on these promises two years later, and what more must be done to help businesses attain the goal of racial justice on the job and in society.
We learned from the session that as of January of this year, only one per cent of the $67 billion dollars pledged towards racial equity by the largest companies of the world has been dispersed. During the session, the moderator asked the panelists and members of the audience in an informal survey if they think corporate attention to racial injustice issues is being sustained, and we saw only a handful of hands go up.
At KPMG, we know we still have work to do, and we’re working to build a foundation that will create lasting change. We understand the influence we have and can leverage as a global organization that operates in 145 countries and territories around the world.
Our organization has been driving our Inclusion, Diversity & Equity agenda for some time, but here is a view of what the last few years have looked like:
- Following the murder of George Floyd, we invited our people to take part in a series of conversations on anti-Black racism sharing their lived experiences, thoughts and ideas 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 in these incredibly honest discussions. It ultimately led to the development of our Inclusion, Diversity & Equity Collective Action Plan, 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 co-created with our people’s input.
- The following year we continued the conversation through a global summit, where over 6,000 of our people joined the live session. The summit focused on conversations around microaggressions, creating a culture where it’s psychologically safe to speak up and the role of networks in building belonging and creating safe spaces to share experiences. We introduced a guide on the power of allyship which became our main focus throughout the year.
- To further our journey, this year we engaged our organization in an eight-week global campaign, where we encouraged our people to take individual practical actions and stand united against racial discrimination.
We saw over 3,000 commitments and actions submitted from 45 countries across our network focused around topics such as hiring inclusively, learning about colorism, being culturally sensitive, embracing diverse views and much more. We created a space for our employees to take ownership, share their learnings and powerful stories to demonstrate their allyship and help make meaningful change. We also have run round table sessions throughout the year with our people networks, leaders and next generation to engage in the conversation at a more intimate and informal level to hear their thoughts and ideas.
There are many other initiatives we have put in place to build a long-term foundation – visit the Inclusion, diversity and equity section of Our Impact Plan to read more about these initiatives in detail.
We have been learning along the way, but there are a few takeaways at the heart of our journey over the last few years.
Firstly, is the importance of authentic communication, making sure public commitments are backed by tangible actions your organization is taking. Secondly is the power of creating a culture of allyship, and being an advocate for change.
And most importantly, the key to creating long-term, continuous lasting change is not only using a world event or a calendar date to raise the discussion around inclusion, diversity and equity, but building it into your strategy to ensure inclusive practices extend from leadership commitment through to middle management and are felt at the employee level.
People are at the heart of our organization and we’re committed to fostering an environment of authenticity, driving allyship and sharing our lived experiences – truly encouraging KPMG people to come as they are.