An article published by TriplePundit titled, “We Asked Americans What They Think About the Term “ESG.” Their Answers Were Eye-Opening,” discusses a collection of U.S. voices claiming ESG is corporate righteousness identifying social and economic concerns for which companies deem out of scope for their businesses (Cone, 2023). The article also identifies three communication approaches to mitigate the conversation: clarify the objectives of ESG, enhance the visibility of ESG figures and evaluations, and adopt uniform reporting frameworks (Cone, 2023).
To gain an alternative perspective, we spoke to Anne Gross, an executive director at KPMG and leader of the Data Citizens with Purpose® (DCwP) program, who credited a shared value approach to work as the driving force connecting an ESG mindset to overall program success.
In our discussion, Anne referenced the Harvard Business Review article “The Big Idea: Creating Shared Value.” Over ten years ago, the authors discussed restructuring products and markets, redefining efficiency within the supply chain, and building a supportive business ecosystem at company sites as ways a firm can take a shared value approach, connecting company success to social progress (Porter & Kramer, 2011, p. 65).
What is Data Citizens with Purpose, and what is your shared value approach to work?
The DCwP program is the leading way KPMG delivers experience-driven learning opportunities to employees while serving our communities. By providing data-driven solutions to difficult ESG concerns, the DCwP program can actively identify and address social and environmental issues and leverage our firm’s strengths and expertise to create economic value. Our team can help align company profits with societal progress through a shared value approach.
Specifically, our DCwP pro bono engagements allow KPMG professionals to enhance their skills and competencies as we have experienced professionals leading and guiding those honing their skills to deliver valuable insights for non-profit organizations. Our professionals can do something for themselves while supporting the community and organizations they are passionate about.
How does a pro bono engagement work?
Any KPMG professional can nominate a non-profit organization they support for KPMG pro bono data & analytic (business intelligence) services. Once a nomination is received, the core DCwP team connects with the non-profit to discuss the business objectives and available data. After scoping is completed, the DCwP team establishes the engagement team, provides them with the necessary materials, and launches the engagement. Over eight (8) weeks, the engagement team reviews cleanses, transforms, and visualizes the data, providing insights into the business objectives identified by the pro bono client.
When meeting with a non-profit to discuss business objectives, the goal is to ensure that DCwP can deliver excellence and provide actionable insights. Another goal of each project is for the non-profit organization to clarify the engagement team’s use of the data and their recommendation moving forward.
Once the projects are completed, DCwP consistently follows up with pro bono clients and their engagement teams to monitor progress and better understand how both leverage knowledge gained from the experience. Touching base with pro bono client organizations allows our team to measure our impact continuously and ensures our program fosters collaborative relationships. Likewise, following up with the engagement team will enable DCwP to identify how employees leverage their data and analytics skills to support KPMG through client-related work.
Can you provide examples of your clients and the pro bono services delivered?
Recently, a DCwP engagement team completed an analysis for Downtown Women’s Center (DWC), the only organization in Los Angeles focused exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless women. To further support its mission, DWC was interested in learning about trends in its fundraising data to expand its reach and donations. The DCwP team analyzed DWC’s donor and transaction data to identify ways to be more effective in targeting donors for ongoing contributions and strategizing the marketing of future fundraising activities.
On another engagement, the DCwP team analyzed 2-1-1 caller, referral, and service data provided by Mile High United Way (MHUW) to identify trends and uncover insights related to food, housing, health, and employment assistance. Through the analysis, the DCwP team was able to help MHUW detect additional at-risk individuals and families, identify opportunity locations for more effective deployment of other resources, and enable MHUW to take a more comprehensive approach to providing support to their community.
What is essential to developing a successful program that integrates a shared value approach?
The success of our DCwP pro bono engagements and their recognition as a value-add within KPMG is grounded in the following:
- Our engagements reflect an understanding of KPMG’s business and the knowledge, skills, and networks our people need to develop to be successful. We design and deliver pro bono engagements that help meet client business needs and allow our professionals to build confidence in their ability to address issues and identify solutions.
- We measure and monitor to identify if and how we are making a difference and what enhancements and adjustments are needed to ensure we meet the needs of our pro bono clients and the KPMG business. By consistently tracking the progress of our pro bono clients and employees during and after engagements, our team can identify areas for improvement to increase impact and value for all stakeholders.
- The ability to tell our story with a readily available elevator pitch is essential to briefly and confidently share the what, how, and why we put resources into our pro bono engagements. By embedding consistency into our messaging, we can tell our story and ensure others can tell it for us, creating increased breadth and depth of our overall brand awareness.
Focusing on how pro bono engagements help the nonprofits we serve and our business (the creation of shared value) has helped strengthen our programs and secure wide-ranging support for our work. As a result, and as Porter and Kramer identified, we are addressing emerging needs and enhancing overall innovation and efficiency at KPMG.
As DCwP continues to expand and evolve, we hope our efforts will have a positive chain reaction, leading to a recognition that doing good for the community can also be good for business. As a result, the term “ESG” will become synonymous with business as usual.
- Cone, C. (2023, September 12). “We Asked Americans What They Think About the Term “ESG.” Their Answers Were Eye-Opening.” TriplePundit. What Americans Really Think About the Term ESG (triplepundit.com)
- Porter, M. E., & Kramer, M. R. (2011). “Creating shared value: How to reinvent capitalism—and unleash a wave of innovation and growth.” Harvard Business Review, 89(1/2), 62-77.