• Lisa Heneghan, Leadership |

KPMG is dedicated to driving inclusion, diversity and equity (IDE), and we have ambitious goals: like increasing the representation of women at our leadership level to 33 percent, or our 10x30 strategy to economically empower 10 million underprivileged youths by 2030 — through education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

As KPMG’s Global Chief Digital Officer, an exciting part of my role is to help drive and accelerate our IDE aspirations through digital transformation.

So, in recognition of this year’s International Women’s Day, I thought I might share some of the emerging opportunities and impactful ways that technology and innovation can help close the gender gap.

1. Use data to quantify the gap and measure progress
With great data comes great decisions, and that can lead to great impact. Technology is now allowing organizations to integrate much more granular levels of rich employee data with benchmarking and demographic data — helping to better quantify the gaps and measure progress on their objectives and investments. Data is helping to move the diversity issue from anecdotal to analytical. And that’s giving leaders the insights they need to make impactful decisions and investments that actually move the needle on diversity and inclusion.

2. Unlock the promise of the metaverse to democratize education
I see great promise in the metaverse’s potential to improve access to education. Moving to digital can give people the freedom to learn on their own terms and could be revolutionary in ways similar to how hybrid working has accelerated accessibility in the workplace. In fact, 76 percent of US consumers say the metaverse can enhance learning like job training and higher education. As I noted in a recent blog post, the success of the metaverse largely depends on our ability to grow the space in a way that’s safe and inclusive for all genders.

3. Address gender bias in artificial intelligence (AI)
Generative AI, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Google’s Bard, is providing access to new language processing tools that can help create opportunities for social and economic inclusion. These applications can, for example, provide women with tools to assist them in marketing their skills in the digital economy, help in pitching their entrepreneurial concepts or assist in securing funding. While we’re seeing significant progress in developers’ efforts to assess and address the ethical biases inherent in AI, great focus will be needed to make sure the algorithms, and the data underpinning these models, are equitable and free from discrimination.

4. Reduce cyber violence through digital literacy
Improving digital literacy isn’t just about providing people with access to technology, it’s also about helping them stay safe in the digital space. As much of our daily life moves online, so too are predators and cybercriminals. We need to invest in upskilling and take digital literacy into the classroom to help reduce cyber violence and crime. KPMG’s Global Cyber Day, for example, reached 370,000 students across 60 countries and territories last year alone.

5. Encourage more women in technology
According to the World Economic Forum, the greatest challenge preventing the economic gender gap from closing is women’s under-representation in emerging roles. In cloud computing, for example, just 14 percent of professionals are women. I personally put considerable effort into serving as a mentor to female technology and business professionals, and KPMG firms are taking steps to serve as role models for other organizations. Our goal of 33 percent female representation at the leadership level is illustrative of our efforts, and this ambition is supported by key talent programs like IT’s Her Future, which is designed to support women in technology by providing mentoring, coaching and technical confidence to allow them to be the architects of change across the technology industry.

Just over 30 years ago, as a young woman right out of school, I took a job as an account manager at a tech firm. Today, I’m the first female Global Chief Digital Officer of a ‘Big Four’ accounting organization. Technology gave me the tools, the experience and the motivation to smash glass ceilings and advocate for equality. Let’s give all women the same opportunity.

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