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Diversifying the profession: KPMG perspectives

CAQ themes at the 2022 AICPA & CIMA Conference included attracting new and diverse talent to the auditing profession.


AICPA Chair Anoop Natwar Mehta opened the Conference by stressing his three areas of focus: people, skills and trust. In staying relevant and addressing challenges, he emphasized that a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is essential. This theme continued on Tuesday, when Conference attendees joined a session hosted by officials from the Center for Audit Quality on audit quality, including a critical topic: how the CAQ is working to recruit a new and diverse generation of talent to the public company accounting profession.

Annette Schumacher Barr, CAQ Senior Director, noted that attracting diverse talent to the profession is a top priority among audit and accounting organizations and stakeholders. The recent decline in students pursuing accounting degrees (as reported in the AICPA 2021 Trends Report) ­– combined with historical barriers to access for students and early career talent from underrepresented communities ­– has put a magnifying glass on the profession’s collective efforts to open doors to new opportunities for the future talent and leaders of our field. Schumacher Barr highlighted the CAQ’s efforts through its Accounting + program designed to increase awareness and combat misconceptions about the profession.

Attracting and retaining

As a long-time supporter of the CAQ’s work, KPMG has made significant efforts to attract and retain diverse talent, in line with the firm’s Accelerate 2025 strategy. One aspirational goal the firm laid out is to demonstrate a 50% increase in its Black and Hispanic/Latinx workforce by 2025, noted in our 2022 US Impact Plan.

At KPMG, we are keenly focused on creating equitable pathways for diverse talent to pursue the accounting profession and build long-term, rewarding careers. To do that, we are improving the pathway to employment for underrepresented talent through innovative internship, career development and education programs.

Elena Richards

KPMG Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

KPMG has invested in multiple initiatives to diversify the firm and profession at large.

KPMG Master of Accounting with Data and Analytics Program

This program is an innovative collaboration between KPMG and leading business schools that combines learning, funding and work experience to develop accountants and auditors for the digital age.

We recently included more Historically Black Colleges and Universities to the program, notably Alabama State University’s Percy J. Vaughn, Jr. College of Business Administration and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Howard University School of Business, and more.

KPMG CPA Kickstart Program

Our Audit Practice established a new program that pays incoming campus hires to study for the CPA exam. KPMG CPA Kickstart is a two-month, 40 hours a week program that provides new hires the time, along with compensation and full benefits, to focus on two of the most difficult sections of the CPA exam, enabling them to transition to full-time work seamlessly. The program will be facilitated by KPMG in conjunction with a third-party review course. Those enrolled in the program will receive additional support for completion of the final parts of the CPA exam once they begin client work.

KPMG Career Catalyst Program

KPMG launched this program in 2022, a free virtual learning experience for college students to help them better understand what it’s like to work at KPMG. The program allows students to participate in immersive content and job-simulated tasks specific to our AdvisoryAudit and Tax offerings—ultimately helping them prepare to land at job at KPMG.

Embark Scholars Program

A multiyear internship program that develops high-performing students of color into the KPMG leaders of tomorrow.

Rise Leadership Institute

A leadership program with conferences, scholarships and career opportunities for high-performing first- and second-year college students who identify as a person of color, veteran, person with disability, LGBTQ+ individual or first-generation college student.

Reaching New Heights

In partnership with the KPMG U.S. Foundation, Inc., KPMG launched a new grant and matching gift program to promote access and equity in higher education. This program aims to promote diversity at colleges and universities and foster collaboration between educators and KPMG leaders ­– with a vision to have a more diverse workforce.

The ESG connection

In Monday’s ESG reporting preparers’ panel, Sheryl Burke (Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at CVS Health) touched on the power of ESG to help in attracting diverse talent to the profession. This is consistent with our experience at KPMG.

Corporate purpose is important for strengthening the engagement and the employee value proposition. We are starting to see the next generation of leaders trying to find purpose in their work. Employees want to work for companies that take ESG seriously. This brings an incredible opportunity for companies that are purpose-driven to attract and retain the best talent.

Corinne Dougherty

KPMG Partner

Accounting Research Online

Access our accounting research website for additional resources for your financial reporting needs.

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