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Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

Social mobility

We empower our people to thrive with us.

Social mobility is all about creating a fairer, more equitable society. And that work starts within our own firm. We've been committed to improving social mobility for over a decade and are extremely proud to be leading in this space. In the past year the network has been recognised with the Highly Commended award for Employee Network of the Year 2023 at the Burberry British Diversity awards and the activity that the network drives plays a pivotal role in making KPMG a socially mobile workplace and the only business to be ranked in the top 5 of the Social Mobility Employer Index (SMEI) since it started in 2017.

KPMG UK Social Mobility Employee Network (UpBringing) chairs

Commitments and recognition

We’ve committed to having 29% lower socio-economic background representation at partner level by 2030.
We’re recognised as a Living Wage accredited employer and were one of the first companies to be accredited.
We’ve been ranked #4 in the Social Mobility Employer Index 2023 and are the only business to have been recognised in the top five since it started in 2017.

Where we are now

Colleagues from lower socio-economic backgrounds firm-wide / 20% 1-Oct-23 spot count (1-Oct-22: 21%)
Senior colleagues* from lower socio-economic backgrounds / 21% 1-Oct-23 spot count (1-Oct-22: 21%)
Graduate and apprentice joiners from lower socio-economic backgrounds / 17% FY23 (FY22: 20%)
New experienced hires from lower socio-economic backgrounds / 18% FY23 (FY22: 21%)

These figures are based on those that have declared this information to us (74% of employees). Find out more about representation across our firm here. You can also find out about our 2023 Pay Gaps and how we’re addressing them here.

*Senior colleagues includes Partners, Directors and Senior Managers

Our social mobility action plan

Accountable leaders In 2021, we set a socio-economic background representation target for the first time, aiming for 29 per cent of Partners and Directors to be from a lower socio-economic background by 2030. We're also publishing the socio-economic background of our Board and Executive Committee and our work in this area has led to us being ranked in the top five of the Social Mobility Employer Index since it started in 2017.

"As a firm, we’ve been committed to improving social mobility for over a decade and we’re extremely proud to be the only business to have featured amongst the top 5 in the Social Mobility Employer Index since its inception.

Building on our longstanding focus in this area, in the past year alone we’ve made important progress. This includes publishing extensive analysis into the impact of socio-economic background on progression in our firm; the biggest ever performed by a single business. We also launched our “Opening Doors to Opportunities” initiative, which aims to give one million young people the opportunity to develop their skills by 2030."

Jon Holt / Chief Executive and Senior Partner, KPMG in the UK
Our broader impact From being one of the first accredited Living Wage employers in 2012, to being the founding partner of the UK's National Numeracy Day in 2018, KPMG has long been a leader on the social mobility agenda. In 2020, we supported the Social Mobility Commission with the planning and delivery of the Professional and Financial Services toolkit and in November 2023, we sponsored the Social Mobility Foundations ‘Levelling the Playing Field’ report which provides employers with practical guidance on calculating their socio-economic background (SEB) pay gap.

Jonathan Holt, Chief Executive and Senior Partner said: “I’m delighted that we are co-sponsoring the ‘Levelling the Playing Field’ guide. Improving opportunities for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds is not only a moral imperative, but an economic necessity for the professional services sector and the wider UK economy”.

Our leaders represent our firm on groups such as Progress Together, Living Wage Advisory Council and Patchwork Foundation.

In March 2023, we hosted our first ever KPMG UK social mobility conference in Manchester with over 100 attendees from organisations that share our vision from across the private, public and third sectors.

We apply a place-based approach to our community initiatives to make sure we're targeting the areas of greatest need, working alongside local stakeholders, governments and charities to help tackle regional inequalities. This includes supporting initiatives such as the Manchester Access Programme and King’s College Careers+.
Inclusive environment Our social mobility focussed employee network empowers colleagues from less-privileged backgrounds to achieve their development goals, collectively share their experiences and support one another to make a difference and build a stronger culture at KPMG.

We're also training all of our colleagues on socio-economic background and the invisible barriers that exist, to help raise awareness of unconscious bias and things all colleagues need to be mindful of.

By improving our data insight through new tools and technology and working with a diverse range of suppliers, we’re able to take a more holistic approach to IDE and better consider the impact and access for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds through the intersections of gender, ethnicity and disability. And through pioneering programmes such as New Futures and the opening of the “Redemption Roasters” café in our London office – which provide opportunities to prison leavers – we are supporting some of the hardest to reach and least socially mobile communities.
Equitable experiences In 2021, we reported our socio-economic background pay gaps for the first time and were one of the first organisations to do so. We've worked with experts in the field of social equality, the Bridge Group, to advise us on the most robust and reliable indicator of social mobility (parental occupation groups), the definition of socio-economic background and the terminology used.

In 2022 we went a step further and published extensive analysis of the progression rates at our firm, which marked another important step in our social mobility journey. Socio-economic background was found to have the strongest effect on progression, compared to any other characteristic. As part of the research, we shared detail on the action we’re taking to tackle this, as well as a toolkit designed to help other businesses do the same.

In response to the findings, we launched a targeted promotion readiness programme ‘Reach’, to help support this particular group of colleagues to develop and progress at a comparable rate to their peers. Our award-winning personal development programme GROW also helps historically underrepresented talent reach the next stage of their career.

Across our recruitment processes, we’ve made a number of changes. We’ve recently introduced contextual recruitment methods for our 2023 intake of graduates and apprentices. This new approach places greater focus on an individual’s overall potential and considers academic results in the context in which they were achieved, looking at both socio-economic background as well as any extenuating circumstances. As part of this, we’ve broadened entry requirements for specific programmes, such as our Technology graduate programmes and are working with a broader range of universities to widen access.

Our Discovery work experience programme, in support of Access Accountancy, is dedicated to supporting young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, with many going on to apply for and join our apprenticeship programmes. While our One+1 programme, in collaboration with the Social Mobility Foundation, matches placements provided for KPMG employees contacts with students without such connections. In 2023 the Discovery programme provided places to 180 candidates and the One+1 programme provided placements to 172 individuals.
Responding to our progression research findings

We’re committed to making KPMG a business that’s open to all, whoever you are and whatever your background. To make that a reality we need to better understand the barriers being faced by historically underrepresented groups. In December 2022, we published leading research into the progression rates of people within our firm, examining 16,500 colleagues over a 5-year period – the most in-depth study of its kind undertaken by a single organisation.

Our research found that social class is the biggest barrier to career progression, compared to any other diversity characteristic. And when that’s combined with some other minority characteristics, career advancement is impacted even further.

Jon Holt, Chief Executive and Senior Partner, KPMG in the UK, says “By its very nature, socio-economic background is complex and emotive – it requires us to confront how our upbringing shapes the opportunities we have access to later in life. But as challenging as that might be, we must lean into the discomfort if we are to ensure no one is overlooked or left behind. Career advancement should be about realising potential: it is not about background or polish.”

Recognising the need for more targeted action, we launched a promotion readiness programme ‘Reach’, aimed at supporting colleagues from low and intermediate socio-economic backgrounds, taking into consideration the impact of other minority characteristics where appropriate.

Jade, a participant of the programme said “The sessions that I attended as part of the programme provided practical guidance and useful tips for the interview process and gave an opportunity for a helpful and open discussion on confidence and mindset for the new role.”

Zeena, a fellow programme participant added “It was a chance to not only think about my achievements, but to also see the promotion in the wider context of KPMG rather than just my area of the business. Reach helped me grow my network and converse with people in a similar position to me with the same excitements and fears.”

In its initial pilot, the programme targeted colleagues at manager level during our October promotions and of the 76 colleagues that took part, 79% were promoted.

Following the success of the pilot, the programme is due to be expanded to target both managers and senior managers during our bi-annual promotion rounds.

Your background shouldn’t be a barrier: Harris’ story

Harris was born and bred in Birmingham, after his parents emigrated to the UK from Pakistan in 1968. His father was a factory worker while his mother looked after the home. His parents throughout his childhood put in the hours to save to give the best opportunities they could for their son.

It paid off, with Harris getting his A levels at the local college and becoming the first person amongst his extended family to go to university – reading Computer Science and Business Management at Aston University. He graduated with a 1st class honours and from there, he got onto the graduate scheme at a financial data company. At the beginning of 2022, he joined KPMG.

“I used to drive past the KPMG building in Birmingham and the brand has always seemed prestigious,” Harris reflects. “It was a great day when I joined the firm.”

Since then, things have moved fast. Harris saw an email about the firm’s Next Generation Leader scheme, applied and was given a place. He’s already been promoted to manager and leads a small team providing digital agility design services to clients. He has a mentor too – one of KPMG’s senior partners, David Rowlands.

“It’s been fantastic,” Harris says. “I’m so lucky to have David as a mentor – he’s really helped shape my thinking. Mentors are so important for people from backgrounds like mine because you don’t have anyone in your family who’s been there before and can give you guidance.”

He adds: “As a Pakistani and practising Muslim, I’ve faced no barriers and I’ve found KPMG very inclusive. I was taken back by the quality of the prayer room in Canary Wharf. It really said a lot about how serious the firm is about ‘showing up as yourself.”

Student Recruitment programmes

KPMG’s Student Recruitment team have been running the Employability Skills Programme since 2021. It is aimed at giving university and school and college students from lower socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to increase their employability skills and build confidence. The programme was also designed to be a gateway to applying to KPMG – empowering participants to apply to our graduate, apprenticeship, or formal work experience programmes.

The Employability Skills Programme runs in the Autumn and Spring for undergraduates and in the Easter holidays for school and college students. Across Autumn 2021 and Spring 2022, 99 students took part in the programme. The sessions covered topics such as resilience and commercial awareness, as well as providing support with applications and mock interviews, and giving them the opportunity to hear from colleagues at KPMG. Each student was also given a dedicated contact within the Student Recruitment team to keep in touch with, a certificate of completion and an Amazon voucher. 79% of these students made an application for 2022 and 2023 programmes, and so far 15 have been made an offer.

In 2023, KPMG launched the Social Mobility Talent Insight Programme across Audit, Tax, Deal Advisory, Consulting and Technology & Engineering. This is a formal work experience programme aimed at final year University students and Graduates that come from a low socioeconomic background. The 3-day programme allows students to learn more about KPMG and if successful on the programme, they can go onto secure a place on our Graduate programme in their chosen capabilities.