The global pandemic has sparked a sharp awareness and discussion around inclusion and diversity or rather the lack of it in our social set-up. The attention has quickly shifted to many prejudices and unearned privileges that preclude half of our humanity from a level playing field. The need to raise the bar for a professional services firm like KPMG in India is even higher, since we are as good as our human capital, and we need to ensure that we source the best talent from a pool that is representative of all the available talent so that we do not pay the price of a missed opportunity.
The Pandemic Has Been a Blessing for I&D
The COVID-19 pandemic with all its devastation has been a blessing of sorts for I&D and has completely opened the playing field. It has taught us that:
- Agile, remote, hybrid working is a viable option
- Employees are now demanding a pizza-view of life with work being only a slice and not the ‘be-all’ of our existence
- New markets and newer ways of doing business mean that diverse thinking is the way forward
In India, I&D predominantly points to inclusion of women in the workforce, and rightfully so since we are still at a nascent stage of this purpose. However, with millennials and soon GenZ, becoming the dominant group in the workplace, organizations that don’t adapt to this changing expectation, risk quick redundancy.
Inclusive policies, gender sensitisation, celebrating the ‘Pride’ month, International Women’s Day, etc. are seemingly considered passé – the real measure being ‘walking the talk’ which means tangible actions and outcomes that benefit everybody!
I&D at KPMG in India
In less than a decade, we as a firm have emerged as one of the largest Advisory and Consulting practices in India. With burgeoning heterogeneous mix of highly talented pool of people, has come our first learning – that I&D plans cannot be a ‘one-size-fits all’, we started our journey with a deep analysis of our current organizational structure through a self-critical lens to identify the weak links and areas that needed immediate attention, followed by customised interventions which are now being monitored for tangible outcomes.
Our I&D pie’s core ingredient is ‘customisation sprinkled generously with agility, adaptability, and joy. Since I&D starts at the very top, our first target group has been the Advisory leadership team (the GenXers). They have enthusiastically taken on reverse mentors from the very large group of millennials to build a bridge and leverage inter-generational living experiences and learnings.
Our partner development program will now also include an immersive intervention by external I&D specialists to ensure that we slowly but certainly make this not a topical event but part of our thinking and organisational DNA. Our millennials have their own resource group to ideate, network, and suggest ways in which we can be better.
Our near-term plan is to create awareness of why we need differently-abled; retirees; veterans; people from diverse regions, religions, and languages to succeed at business. It is no longer about social service; but what MUST be done to be leaders in the line of any work.
The most marginalized group of LGBTQI community needs a shift in thinking which we are committed to bring, by focusing on the value they bring to the table instead of their gender or sexuality. The goal on this front is to change the thinking from “they need us to we need them more”.
I believe that I&D is a lever that will make us do better in all aspects of our business: higher topline, better margins, best talent!
How is KPMG in India Breaking the Bias?
A simple, well-crafted, break the bias e-mail campaign is a tool we have used to create awareness and help people recognise, address, and call out blind spots.
This International Women’s Day we plan to launch a mandatory I&D training for all employees with the sole objective of embedding inclusion into our cultural fabric and DNA.
Also, like most Indian peers, having representation of women in the workforce is one of our top agendas. As a firm, we realised that just having policies that help navigate work and life is not enough. So, we are now having active conversations with expectant and returning mothers; reviewing the campuses we hire from and make it richer from a diverse skills perspective; and curating training specific to the women’s groups.
Another initiative that we plan to take on next year with the help of one of our client-facing consultant groups is to have detailed interviews with employees who have quit the firm in the recent past, the goal being to identify systemic flaws and cultural fixes.
The common thread across all our interventions is shortening the time to action and cutting the red tape, so our people see that we are serious about outcomes.
Everyone at some stage in their lives has felt excluded. Our aim is to create a place of work where everyone is invited and feels comfortable enough to dance the way they want to and find company while they do so.
PS- Supported by Priyanka Chaturvedi Agrawal, I&D Team, Advisory, KPMG in India