• Heather Baker, Author |
4 min read

It’s a good day when professional achievements align with personal values. Better still when those values are shared among your peers. I feel fortunate, then, to see my own deeply-held beliefs around sustainability, workplace inclusivity and equitable prosperity reflected in the journey my colleagues across Canada are on to impact their local offices and communities for the better.

And journey is the word for it. While putting together KPMG in Canada's Our Impact Plan 2022, I was inspired by actions our people and the firm are taking across four strategic pillars: Planet, People, Prosperity and Governance. At the same time, I was humbled by the amount of work we have left ahead of us. If there is a "finish line,” we still have some distance to travel. Reports like these are but a snapshot and an opportunity to measure our results, re-examine commitments, and spark open and honest conversations about what we need to do next for our firm to go further.

Take, for example, our Planet pillar. Through sustainability programs, awareness campaigns (e.g., Earth Day, World Oceans Day, etc.), volunteer initiatives (e.g., environmental clean-ups), and community alliances, our people have brought KPMG closer to our environmental goals, which include:

  • Achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030
  • Sourcing 100 per cent renewable electricity starting in 2022
  • Setting an internal carbon price starting in 2022
  • Reporting our sustainability performance
  • Nurturing an environmentally aware and active workforce to drive change in our communities.

We’re making real impacts, but the journey is just getting started. We must continue learning, evolving and innovating beyond the status quo if we hope to make these impacts resonate for generations to come.

This long-term philosophy applies to all of our ESG pillars. In every office and at every level, I see the efforts our people are making to foster inclusive, diverse and equitable workplaces; champion purposeful business practices; and demonstrate good corporate citizenship. I see People Networks leading the way on Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, environmental committees taking charge on climate action, and teams across Canada forging close community ties. We are doing good work and seeing the results. Still, to become complacent or declare victory across any of our pillars now would be cutting our journey short and even negating the progress we’ve already made.

Collective impact
As reflected in Our Impact Plan 2022, KPMG has made significant progress on many of our ESG commitments. Some notable examples include the launch of our Truth and Reconciliation Action Plan, achieving our previous target around the diversity of our partnership, building out our service offerings to support our clients in making a positive societal difference, and delivering $9.5 million of financial support to the community. In addition, we have been raising awareness on concepts such as nature-positivity, conservation and biodiversity.

But what we achieve as a firm is not possible without the contributions of our people. Founded on our values, what we do at KPMG matters, as well as why and how we do it. Driven by excellence, our people deliver meaningful work that builds trust in the capital markets, strengthens the Canadian economy and contributes to a sustainable society. They are the ones driving the programs that enable everyone at KPMG to achieve their full potential and drive positive societal change—together, for better.

The stories in KPMG’s Our Impact Plan 2022 reflect my belief that all positive actions help advance change. Collectively, each of our individual actions adds up to significant impact. As an avid gardener, I know that nurturing my postage stamp of a garden in Toronto won’t change the world. What I hope, however, is that my humble hobby makes the world a little better for myself and the people around me—that it might inspire them as it inspires me—and that it leaves the planet a little better than I found it.

We can all find individual but resonating ways to make an impact. At KPMG, that includes making incremental changes to how we work, travel and deliver services to our clients that reduce waste, lower emissions and contribute to a more sustainable work environment. These actions all have an impact, even if it takes time—or, in my case, a few seasons—to see the results take shape.

Sharing stories
It’s important to celebrate the many ways people make an impact. Our Impact Plan is one way I get to do so in my role. Another is KPMG’s annual Impact Awards, which provide an opportunity to take stock of where we stand on our firmwide commitments and spotlight the teams and individuals making a difference in their communities across the country. The Impact Awards are also a time to put KPMG’s social impact in a broader context and inspire others throughout the firm to get more involved and continue making the differences that matter to them.

And yet, it’s not always easy to report on our progress. We are continually learning how to measure the results of our environmental initiatives, communicate the impacts of our outreach programs and report on our Social Impact progress with honesty and transparency. We know that ESG washing benefits no one, and that it serves no one to take credit for more than we've accomplished. Above all, we know we must lead by example if we are to position ourselves, our clients and our peers to make a lasting impact.

Moving ahead
I am honoured to serve as KPMG in Canada’s Social Impact Leader. The role comes at a relatively late stage in my career, where I find myself thinking about how I can leave this firm a better place than when I first joined. Witnessing the initiatives being undertaken within our offices is a constant source of inspiration, and doing what I can to support and champion our people's efforts provides a strong sense of purpose that I know my peers also share. Many of our commitments extend beyond my retirement date, but if I can plant the seeds and lay the groundwork for a brighter future—even just a little—I know I'll have helped make the firm, and our communities, better for the next generation.

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