This time last year, we were deep into the design of our Truth & Reconciliation Action Plan, a forward-looking process that included engaging and constructive discussions with our Indigenous Peoples Network. At one point in those conversations, the topic of traditional medicines was raised. This led directly, in December 2022, to KPMG in Canada taking another step forward with the introduction of our Indigenous Wellness benefit.
This benefit was a first of its kind in corporate Canada and an acknowledgement that Indigenous cultural and healing practices have a place in benefits plans, which have traditionally been limited to Western medical practices. The benefit provides an annual allowance of up to $500 to cover costs related to Indigenous healers, medicines, ceremonies and more. It also represented a continuation of our firm’s ongoing mission to build an inclusive and equitable benefits program.
What does it mean to be “equitable”?
A common misconception is that equity is about treating everyone the same. But in fact it’s about recognizing that people are diverse in their needs, and for everyone to thrive they need the tools, resources and supports that are meaningful for them.
Pursuing equity requires each of us to be open to learning and willing to engage in what can sometimes be humbling conversations. This is unquestionably difficult because it depends on acknowledging our own frameworks and biases; it depends, that is, on our willingness to be vulnerable. This can feel daunting—and if it does, it’s a good sign you’re on the right track.
In benefits design more specifically, equity starts with an understanding of the needs of different communities, and this understanding starts with curiosity, conversation and listening.
Listening to your people
Employee Resource Groups are a valuable source of insight and feedback. At KPMG, we call them People Networks and they’re often the points at which enhancements to our individual and collective understanding begin.
We see the members of our People Networks as inclusion, diversity and equity (ID&E) collaborators. They are instrumental in helping us know what we’re doing right and where we can do better to create meaningful change.
To name only a few of them, these networks include Indigenous Peoples, Black Professionals, East Asian, Disability Inclusion, Pride@KPMG, Mental Health, Women’s Networks, Faith-based networks, and Newcomers to Canada. They’ve been an invaluable resource in our efforts to introduce more inclusive benefits programs and achieve genuine equity.
Moving forward with intention
We can see equity at work in the enhanced family leave program launched at KPMG last year.
Acting on feedback from our Pride@KPMG Networks, we made our parental leave and adoption policies equitable and inclusive to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Making these programs and policies more inclusive has benefited parents of all genders, as families welcoming children by surrogacy and adoption now have access to the same time off as birthing parents.
As leaders in this space at our firm, we’re both proud of what we’ve been able to put in place so far. Programs like the Daily Living Equipment benefit for People with Disabilities, our Gender Affirmation benefit and our support for mental health, alongside the Indigenous Wellness benefit and Family Leave program, are making a real difference for many of our people and their families.
These are only a few examples of several inclusive benefits we’ve introduced at KPMG over the past few years. Each of these benefits grew out of conversations we had with leaders of our 35 People Networks to understand what they need more of and how we can help.
After all, there’s always more we can do. Just like all the inclusive benefits we’ve highlighted here, it all starts with a conversation and active listening. Every conversation takes us one step further to building equity not just into our benefits programs but throughout our entire workplace.
Come along on our ID&E journey
We’re excited about the work we’ve been doing around ID&E and have more inspiring stories and successes to share.
We hope you come back to learn more about our efforts to advance an inclusive, equitable and mentally healthy culture where everyone is welcome to join, advance, belong and thrive. And we hope to inspire your own efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace and world.
Because when we design with equity in mind, everyone wins.
Read our 2023 inclusion, diversity and equity report and learn more about how KPMG in Canada is championing ID&E here.
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