Earlier in 2022, ACCP released the report Advancing Equity in the Corporate Social Impact Profession, offering insights into the field’s demographics, the effectiveness of corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, and the challenges that Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) professionals experience as CSR practitioners.
KPMG U.S. helped fund this first-of-its-kind research, and we are grateful for its support. We spoke with KPMG U.S. Foundation Board Chair Anita Whitehead and KPMG Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer Elena Richards about the firm’s racial equity initiatives and takeaways from the research findings.
Why did KPMG support this research? Why did you think it was essential to conduct?
Anita: Companies play an integral role in fostering meaningful change to advance racial equity and create an environment where everyone can succeed personally and professionally. At KPMG, DEI is supported at all levels of the firm through our Accelerate 2025 strategy, which focuses on attracting, retaining, and advancing the careers of underrepresented talent, engaging everyone, and positioning KPMG as an employer of choice.
Supporting ACCP’s latest research bolsters this commitment and directly addresses how DEI plays a role in social impact teams, companies at large, and the greater society. As a result of ACCP’s survey data, we can more effectively promote equal opportunities across our organizations.
Which findings from the research resonated most for you and KPMG?
Anita: The research on BIPOC representation across CSR teams and companies underscores the relevance of KPMG’s Accelerate 2025 strategy to create a more equitable society and workplace.
Social impact teams must be diverse to lead in promoting greater diversity. This ensures that the interests and goals of underrepresented groups are considered, and those diverse perspectives are incorporated into decision-making.
Elena: KPMG has set ambitious targets to increase representation from underrepresented talent in leadership roles, including doubling Black representation by 2025 at the partner and managing director levels. ACCP’s research facilitates this effort by defining opportunities to accelerate change through talent acquisition investments, leadership development initiatives, equitable volunteer experiences, and engagement of all professionals to support an inclusive culture.
What was your biggest takeaway from the findings?
Elena: Our work is far from over. The data shows that achieving greater racial equity does not have a singular, simple solution. It is multifaceted and complex and requires extensive quantitative and qualitative insights to drive impact. To hold ourselves accountable and maintain transparency, we publish data on the demographics of our U.S. workforce — most recently in our 2022 KPMG U.S. Impact Plan (released April 2022).
In addition to transparently reporting data, our firm has begun implementing numerous structural changes and processes that touch every aspect of our people’s experience, including recruiting, onboarding, learning and development, leadership readiness training, and succession planning.
We have also embedded DEI in our required ethics trainings and personal development goals to drive a greater understanding of DEI and encourage behavioral changes that foster a more inclusive culture. We are proud of the work we have achieved so far, but we also recognize the work we have left to do by 2025 and beyond. As we enter year three of our DEI commitment, we look forward to delivering impact and outcomes that demonstrate progress in a meaningful way.
What surprised you?
Elena: The statistic that only 7% of respondents indicated that their company’s DEI initiatives have been very effective at creating a more equitable workplace took me by surprise.
Each of our DEI commitments and efforts extends beyond the walls of our firm — our goals affect not only our people and the profession but also the greater society. We must recognize and apply the research to make meaningful changes. Our firm’s DEI commitments are ambitious, and change does not come easily, but at KPMG, we believe that to truly unlock the power of our people, we need to act boldly.
Based on what we’ve learned from this study, what opportunities do you see for companies and ACCP to enhance the effectiveness of corporate social impact efforts?
Elena: ACCP’s work provides a research-based foundation to guide our DEI commitments and strategies. The onus is now on each of us to apply these findings internally.
There are many opportunities for ACCP and companies to enhance the effectiveness of corporate social impact efforts, particularly when it comes to increasing BIPOC representation and addressing the skepticism surrounding DEI efforts, by leading and acting authentically.
As part of our Accelerate 2025 commitments, KPMG identified that we need to be more transparent with underrepresented partners about their interests and opportunities to help advance their careers. We also recognized that to reach our goal of increasing our Black and Latinx workforce by 50%, we must invest in underrepresented talent earlier in the career pipeline.
Anita: This led us to create a grant and matching gift program called Reaching New Heights that will fund diversity programs in higher education. This expansion directly aligns with our firm’s Accelerate 2025 strategy to provide more equitable access to meaningful opportunities and develop and attract talent from underrepresented communities.
Working in close collaboration, we can drive forward common causes and advance equity in the workplace and society to accomplish more. This is only the beginning of a much broader effort to ensure we are doing right by society and keeping diversity, equity and inclusion at the heart of our business and philanthropy.
To learn more about how KPMG is making an impact, read the full 2022 U.S. Impact Plan.