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We all have incredibly strong women in our lives. I think of my mother, my wife, my daughter, colleagues I have worked with and been mentored by, the people I work with today.  My mother was an incredibly strong women; she was resilient.  We grew up on a farm where the ravages of drought, flood, fire seemed to be a constant.  She had an inner strength that absorbed the stress and kept the family on an even keel.  She always had a positive outlook strengthened by her faith.

This International Women’s Day, I am taking a moment to reflect on the barriers still to be tackled and to celebrate some of the great women leaders that have influenced me and so many others to do more as a leader. I want to acknowledge right off the bat, that there is still work to do; that the urgent need to cultivate inclusiveness and harness the power of diversity in all its forms is crucial and not limited to matters of gender; that we need to take collective and positive action to ensure we have diverse leadership teams that reflects the richness of society more broadly. But this is a day to focus on women specifically. 

Inspiring women

When I think of some of the most important leaders who have had an influence on my career, many of them are women, and it’s hard to imagine this organization and KPMG’s Global Tax & Legal Network, or my own career path, without their influence.

As just two examples, I think of Jenny Clarke, Partner, KPMG in Australia and our Tax Reimagined leader for the Asia Pacific region whose relentless client focus, calm resolve and creative problem solving I could always count on; and my predecessor in this role, Jane McCormick, whose global mindset, patient approach and deep thinking inspired us all. Both individuals were great mentors to me, providing me clear direction and fresh ideas, as well as direct and constructive feedback to help me grow. 


David Linke

Global Head of Tax & Legal Services, KPMG International


Women in tax

Within the tax profession, I believe we have always recognized the importance of different thinking, different experiences and the value that the resulting different perspectives can bring to the complex challenges and opportunities clients face.  But what we have not always done well is provide the right variety of different career paths and opportunities to our people to ensure they can achieve their potential, and this is something the tax profession continues to work on. For many years, this was particularly the case when it came to the experiences of women.

KPMG has made strong gains within local firms and across the global organization. I’m particularly proud that in the business I led in Australia before taking on my global role, 35 percent of our partners are women. That didn’t just happen. It took conscious care and attention. And while it was a good result, it could be even better. In my new role, I need to be accountable for continuing to grow this focus on a global scale to help ensure KPMG firms are creating the right opportunities for our people around the world.

If I could suggest one piece of advice for women looking to grow within their organizations, it would be to take control of your career: seize opportunities, put yourself forward for promotion and believe in your ability to do that next role. Once you’ve bought into that idea yourself, go a step further and call on others to advocate for you too.  

Taking accountability for a better future

I enjoyed seeing a great interview recently featuring another woman I greatly admire: Secretary Madeleine Albright, who spoke as a part of our Virtual Tax & Legal Summit series. As the first woman US Secretary of State, Dr. Albright proved herself to be not only a pioneer in international relations, but a formidable diplomat, a master negotiator and an all-round incredible leader who just happens to be a woman. Hearing her speak again reminded me of why I find her so inspiring, and it went well beyond her skills and accomplishments. She not only presents as an expert who has a grasp of the details, but also comes across with humility; as someone who is focused on the development of those around her. And as someone who’s strong enough to laugh at herself too.

She once gave a speech on the call for working together to make things better, and while was speaking about cross-border cooperation, I think the line is equally relevant on International Women’s Day, especially in this time. As Secretary Albright said, “What people have the capacity to choose, they have the ability to change.”

To me, this means taking personal accountability for the role we each have the power to play in creating the change we want to see. So, for my part, I will #choosetochallenge my own unconscious biases; to root them out and take action to address them. I will take responsibility for advocating for women leaders and emerging talent, for proactively seeking out their viewpoints, insights and ideas, and shining a light on these whenever I have the chance.  

Congratulations and thank you to all the creative, brilliant, driven, compassionate, inspiring women across KPMG’s Global Tax & Legal network and within the organizations KPMG firms serve. 

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