ESG is the watermark running through KPMG

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These past few years have made it clearer than ever that we all have a role to play when it comes to environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters. With that clarity, KPMG has strengthened our global ESG offering — underpinned by recognizing that we have a responsibility to help build a better future for all.

Between empowering our people to become agents of positive change and providing thoughtful approaches and services to clients, ESG is the watermark that runs through our global organization.

Last year, we announced our global ESG plan that includes a more than US$1.5 billion investment over three years to focus on our ESG change agenda — designed to support KPMG firms in making a positive difference, globally.

This collective investment focuses on training and expanding KPMG’s global workforce, harnessing data, accelerating the development of new technologies and driving action through collaborations, alliances and advocacy. We’ve started this transformation by embedding ESG in both our organization and the work KPMG professionals do with clients to help support them on their journeys and include all aspects of ESG in their business strategies. 

ESG solutions and services

As KPMG’s ESG focus grows, so does the team dedicated to ensuring its presence in all we do. John McCalla-Leacy is the new global head of ESG, ensuring KPMG continues to deliver on its US$1.5 billion investment commitment and accelerate global client solutions for ESG opportunities and challenges. KPMG also appointed Mike Shannon as the first global head of ESG Assurance, a key element in delivering on our global ESG plan.

Delivering measurable impact

As ESG issues continue to dominate our world and our work, at KPMG we aim to always lead by example — by walking the walk and taking the necessary actions to follow through on our pledges and commitments. By going through this journey ourselves, we are able to lead by experience and help take clients on their own ESG journeys.

In the second edition of KPMG: Our Impact Plan, published in March 2022, we share the progress we’ve made on collective ESG commitments from KPMG firms across the globe.

Gary Wingrove

Jane Lawrie

Global Head of Corporate Affairs

KPMG International

"With ESG, the challenge is no longer about determining why change is important or what change is needed. It’s about determining how companies need to work and evolve to hit their ESG goals. Good governance can help drive good decision-making, but as ESG issues gain traction, the governance element becomes ever more critical."

One of the four pillars of KPMG: Our Impact Plan is ‘Planet’ and KPMG is committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, meaning we plan to reduce our emissions by 50 percent in less than a decade. To get there we’ve implemented sustainable practices within our global organization and are evaluating our supply chain to help ensure a healthy planet for generations to come.

To support clients on their decarbonization journeys, this year we created a global climate change and decarbonization hub focused on offering emerging technology expertise (including hydrogen and carbon capture utilization and storage) and decarbonization support (including carbon offsets and transition planning). The hub also provides a climate policy and incentives dashboard to help clients understand the emerging legal regulatory landscape across their geographic and industry footprints.

Meeting the needs of the public interest

As focus continues to shift to the impact businesses have on the world around them, this has brought increased demand for transparency and accountability around ESG. Companies are expected to demonstrate measurable action and having a standardized way to show progress is crucial.

The establishment of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation is a watershed moment for sustainability reporting standards and an important step that will help harness capital markets to secure a sustainable future. We support the ISSB’s mission to develop standards that will help report from a globally consistent baseline of investor-focused sustainability information.

All businesses are facing climate-related risks and opportunities and are making strategic decisions in response. Last year, KPMG created a Climate Change Resource Center with tools and insights to help clients understand the financial reporting impacts a transition to sustainability has on their business. In November 2022, we launched a Sustainability Reporting Resource Center, which provides guidance on getting ready for the ISSB’s IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards.

Listening and taking action

Supporting Ukraine

In response to the Russian government’s military invasion of Ukraine, KPMG felt it had a responsibility to act in line with our Values. We’ve helped our Ukrainian colleagues and those affected in the region, including their immediate family members, to relocate to safer areas of Ukraine or leave the country if they wished and supported them financially throughout.

With the help of KPMG firms and colleagues, we contributed more than US$4.5 million to UNICEF’s Ukraine Emergency Appeal, which provides water and sanitation services, child protection, psychosocial support, health services and emergency cash assistance.

Melissa Hardaway

Melissa Hardaway

Global Chief Administrative Officer & Global Chief Financial Officer

KPMG International

"KPMG as a global organization has a presence all over the world, and with that comes a responsibility to contribute positively to society. I’m proud of all we do to give back to people and communities by supporting organizations such as UNICEF."

Inclusion, diversity and equity (IDE)

In 2022, we took even more steps to further our IDE promise, including our transparent ESG commitments update through KPMG: Our Impact Plan.

Taking the ESG temperature

Big shifts, small steps’ — KPMG’s 2022 review of sustainability and ESG reporting around the world — found that virtually all of the world’s largest 250 companies report on sustainability. But there’s pressure to improve, at least in part because many countries, territories and jurisdictions are moving to mandatory reporting for all organizations.

While there’s been much progress over the past few years in climate-related reporting (the E in ESG), this progress needs to transfer over to social impacts (such as community engagement and labor issues) and governance risks (including corruption and bribery).

Big shifts, small steps : Survey of Sustainability Reporting 2022

Companies tend to find it challenging to strike a balance in sustainability reporting, with a continued slant towards positive reporting and qualitative descriptions of impact, but limited insight into how environment and society impacts the business itself. Companies must find a way to address both their positive and negative impacts.

Facing a likely recession, respondents in our latest KPMG 2022 CEO Outlook report their businesses have conflicting priorities as they aim to prepare for a period of economic uncertainty. Nearly half (45 percent) of the 1325 CEOs who took the survey agree that ESG programs improve financial performance.

CEOs also reported a marked jump in demand for increased transparency from stakeholders. In fact, 69 percent said stakeholder demand is up significantly (from 58 percent in 2021), and 72 percent believe ESG scrutiny will continue to accelerate. Despite this additional demand, CEOs are saying they may, in the short term, slow down investing in certain areas — including ESG.

Pulling back on investing in critical areas during tough economic conditions can intensify issues such as climate change and makes for often expensive corrections in the longer term. This is why we remain committed to our US$1.5 billion investment in furthering the ESG agenda.


Client stories

Climate force

Helping a not-for-profit regenerate Australian rainforests

ClimateForce is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to regenerating Australia’s Daintree Rainforest. The organization was funded by seed donations, which enabled them to acquire a pineapple farm at the mouth of the Daintree River, develop a nursery and buy equipment. As a non-profit, ClimateForce has limited access to traditional capital markets that could help secure funding for their work.

The organization engaged KPMG Australia to provide structural and tax advice to explore a for-profit, for-purpose or impact entity and develop a strategic ESG and impact roadmap.

This new impact model enables investors to provide land and capital to help accelerate ClimateForce’s growth and carbon credit generation while the organization continues its work to regenerate the rainforest, focusing on high biodiversity co-benefits.

KPMG Australia Corporate Citizenship supported ClimateForce pro bono to help them understand their impact and strategically position the organization for private capital and philanthropy.

Building on a bank’s IDE efforts

Cadence Bank has always been committed to its inclusion, diversity and equity (IDE) program.

When George Floyd was murdered in 2020 the organization began to reflect on its purpose, determined to play a part in creating a more equitable future for all.


The bank’s existing IDE program was fragmented, consisting of individual initiatives without a strong, central, strategic control and direction. As a result progress was hard to track, with a lack of targets, measurement and reporting.

Cadence Bank's senior team was determined to further its IDE program as they saw IDE as critical in attracting, developing and retaining talent. The bank was impressed by KPMG in the US’s own IDE program and broad expertise in the field and felt that collaborating would be a great fit.

Keep reading to discover what KPMG in the US did to help Cadence Bank strengthen its IDE program.

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Throughout this webpage, “we”, “KPMG”, “us” and “our” refers to the global organization or to one or more of the member firms of KPMG International Limited (“KPMG International”), each of which is a separate legal entity.